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The Concerto for Guitar and chamber ensemble was completed in September 1970 and is dedicated to the soloist, Julian Bream. It is scored for flute doubling piccolo, oboe doubling cor anglais, bass clarinet, trumpet, violin, viola, cello percussion and celeste. It was first performed on 18 November 1970 in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with the Melos Ensemble, conducted by André Previn.
The concerto is in three sections which are played without a break. The slow opening introduction, which severs as a basis for many ideas that are developed later on in the concerto, suddenly leaps into a sprightly vivo which in turn gives way to an extended cadenza. The cadenza in fact acts as a bridge between the first and the second (andante lento).
The finale, a jaunty 5/8 movement, is characterised by swerving cross-rhythms, with subtle and often dramatic interplay between the guitar and the orchestra.
Richard Rodney Bennett