of the most popular types of classical orchestral piece is the
concerto. It is a rare concert indeed that does not feature
one performed by a noted or upcoming pianist, violinist, cellist
or other soloist demonstrating great prowess and/or sensitivity
on his or her chosen instrument. In the vast majority of instances,
the concerto being performed comes from a select group of works
known as the "standard repertoire" that soloists,
conductors and audiences know well and are invariably crowd
pleasers. There is no doubt that these works represent the cream
of the concerto repertoire. However, this does not mean that
nothing else worthwhile exists among the voluminous output of
the past two centuries that would both illuminate the skills
of performers and gratify the ears and souls of the listeners.
With one notable exception the international standard concerto
repertoire is devoid of representation by British and Commonwealth
composers. The exception is Elgar’s Cello Concerto and even
in this instance one cannot compare its frequency of performance
with works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, etc. The
concertos of Walton and Britten make occasional appearances
as well but rarely away from their native shores. However, since
the onset of the nineteenth century concertos have been produced
and performed in large quantities in the British Isles and in
Britain’s overseas offshoots even if most music lovers are hardly
aware of the existence of these works. Fortunately, for the
curious, the world of the concert hall and world of recordings
are quite divergent. It is the purpose of this work to document
the huge number of recordings of concertos by British and Commonwealth
composers that have been issued on LPs and CDs since these media
have existed beginning in the middle of the twentieth century
and to serve as a reference work for further study by others.
Another tangential purpose is to survey the production of concertos
in the stated time frame and to show the continuity between
the generations of composers as a result of their education
by their predecessors.
The composers included in this discography are those born in
or who came to live in the United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland,
Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Geography is
the only determining factor for inclusion as there is no attempt
here to argue for the existence of any so-called "British"
concerto style that would cover such a vast range of composers.
A chronological structure has been used in order to show the
progression of concertos from the early nineteenth century up
to our own time. This chronology is based on the birth year
of the composer rather than the year a concerto was written.
A composer index is placed first so the reader can immediately
go to any particular composer.
The entry for each composer consists of two sections. First
there is a compact biographical paragraph that notes some essential
information such as place of birth, higher musical education
(including schools and prominent teachers), subsequent musical
careers in addition to composing and selective lists of other
works for orchestra. Compositional styles are not discussed
in these paragraphs and readers are referred to the bibliography
where various reference books that cover this subject are listed.
The second part of each composer entry consists of lists of
his or her concertos that have been recorded and the various
recordings of each work. A concerto is very broadly defined
for the purposes of this book to include any work that has the
word "concerto," "concertino" or "concertante"
in its title whether or not a soloist is involved. Also included
is any work in which an instrumental soloist is involved whatever
its title may be. For every concerto that has them, the opus
number, key signature and title are noted and the year of composition
(when known) is stated for all. The entries of the concertos
that have had multiple recordings are listed alphabetically
by soloist’s name. Each listing of a recording consists of the
following components (again, if known): (1) Performers – soloist(s),
conductor, orchestra), (2) Other works on the recording. (3)
Label and catalogue number and year of issue and (4) If the
recording is a reissue, the original LP or CD release and its
year of issue.
The author has endeavored to list every recording of every concerto
written by a British or Commonwealth composer that has been
published since the advent of the long-playing record in 1948.
However, the following points should be kept in mind. The research
was limited to sources in the English-speaking world. There
has been no attempt to delve into the record catalogues of France,
Germany or any other country that may have possibly produced
an original recording of one of the covered concertos unless
it was widely distributed in the UK or USA. Also, there has
been no attempt to list every reissue of every recording. Some
recordings, especially those made by the so-called "major
labels," have been reissued so often, first on records
then on compact discs, that the author has tried to confine
the listings basically to only the most current and the original
releases of each recording. Likewise, there has been no attempt
to indicate whether recordings are mono or stereo (or any other
audio system) or to comment about availability. Furthermore,
as the focus of this book is British, the catalogue numbers
identify British releases in the vast majority of instances.
Finally, there is a strong certainty on the author’s part that
a number of recordings have been missed. With the multiple thousands
of recordings that have been issued over the past sixty years
and the evanescence of so many of them one cannot but help in
reaching this conclusion.
Nearly all of the recordings listed in this book are commercial
issues that anyone could purchase if they happened to be around
at the right time. However, also included here are a number
of non-commercial or private LPs that were issued by governmental
broadcasting organizations or music publishers that were not
available to the general public. However, these types of recordings
can be found in libraries and do turn up for sale at times so
their existence ought to be documented. In addition there are
a number of unauthorized or "pirate" LPs and CDs found
in these pages. They were widely distributed and found their
way into many collections and were in many instances the only
available recording of a particular work. These recordings were
issued with either the actual or pseudonymous names of performers.
The symbol ▼ is used here to designate this type of recording.
The term "concerto"
was first used for a musical piece in the 17th century and was
initially used to describe vocal music with instrumental accompaniment.
Late in that century the concerto grosso came into being and
this was an orchestral work in which a small group of instruments
was contrasted with the larger ensemble. This would eventually
develop into the solo concerto in the 18th century as a result
of the work of composers such as Vivaldi and J.S. Bach. However,
it is with Mozart that the classical concerto came into being
and his works established the standard that would be adhered
to by the vast majority of concerto-writers who succeeded him.
The concerto came to the British Isles, as did most other classical
forms, in the hands of foreign composers who came to work in
England. George Frederick Handel composed numerous concerti
grossi and solo concertos and he was followed by other distinguished
Continental musicians including Carl Friedrich Abel and Johann
Christian Bach. The solo concerto was well established by the
beginning of the 19th century and many British composers began
writing them especially for the piano. In the 20th century the
concerto grosso re-emerged and it was joined by the concerto
for orchestra as a very popular form.
***** n.b. Any recording that is
not designated as an LP is a CD.
As this work will be updated from
time to time, the author invites anyone with corrections or
information about other recordings that may have been overlooked
to contact him at: email@example.com
I would like to thank the following people for their help in
the preparation of this resource: Rob Barnett and Len Mullenger
at MusicWeb International, Linda Kirkpatrick at the Australian
Music Centre, Christopher Ball, Hubert Culot, David F. Golightly,
Allan Ho, Callum Kenmuir, Timothy Reynish and Ian Scott.
are arranged by composer’s birth date)
composers have their own websites and others can be found on
the websites of their publishers. There are also websites for
earlier composers that are maintained by societies that promote
their music. These can be found by typing the composer’s
name into any search engine.