This work was commissioned by Howard Snell and the Wren Orchestra of London, with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. It was written for, and is dedicated to, James Watson.
It is the last in a series of brass concerti which the composer first started in 1970 with his Horn Concerto, written for Ifor James. Since then he has completed a Tuba Concerto (1976, for John Fletcher), a Trombone Concerto (1979, for Michael Hext) and finally the Trumpet Concerto (1983).
The Trumpet Concerto is in three movements and is scored for Strings and Timpani. The first movement, Allegro giusto , has a sonata form outline and contrasts two main ideas: the first is strident, angular and highly rhythmic, whilst the second is more lyrical and pensive. The strings and timpani play a dramatic role in the musical argument. The second movement, dedicated In Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich, and using his personal 4-note musical cypher, again has contrasting elements. After an orchestral introduction the trumpet enters dramatically. The music here is fragmented, but soon dissolves into a more flowing middle section which builds to a powerful climax. The opening music returns, this time in inversion, and leads to a simple and plaintive re-working of the first trumpet entry. The tension has been resolved.
A cadenza follows, the timpani joining and linking with the trumpet straight into the Finale, Vivo e brillante. This is exuberant in style and cast in rondo form. The rondo theme itself abounds in upward running scales. The episodes, a broad sweeping tune followed by a hectic string fugato based on the rondo theme, and finally a 6/8 scherzo, punctuate the various re-appearances of the main theme. A virtuoso coda with trumpet and strings throwing cascading scales at each other concludes the concerto.
X Marks the Spot: An Analysis of Edward Gregson’s Trumpet Concerto
by Will Koehler, June 2016
The Trumpet Concerto is full of sparkle and energy too; but it too has an elegiac haunting soliloquy for a slow movement followed by a vibrant rondo capriccio finale.
Ivan March, Gramophone (September 2008)
The composer mixed the sounds of trumpet, strings and timpani to great effect, especially in the strongly romantic slow movement, which was in part very reminiscent of the 6/8 variation in his Connotations.
Tom Aitken, British Bandsman (June 1983)
From the opening motif, a vigorous and pithy statement, it is clear that this is going to be a rhythmically charged and abundantly contrasted concerto, demanding immense courage and finesse from the soloist … the work as a whole succeeds in powerfully representing the trumpet’s lyrical as well as rumbustious temperament.
Mark Tanner, Independent Record Review (September 2008)
Something of a demonstration piece for the instrument, it also creates a world of mysterious beauty in its slow movement …
Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News (July 2008)
First Performance: April 1983
St John's, Smith Square, London
James Watson (trumpet), Wren Orchestra of London, Howard Snell (conductor)