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Trio Concertante

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Violin, viola, cello, strings (

Duration (approx)   19 minutes
Composed   2006
Publisher   Music Haven

Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts Ltd. with funds provided by the PRS Foundation and the Arts Council of Wales.

First performance   29th August 2006
Venue   St Andrew's Church, Presteigne, Wales
Orchestra / Ensemble   Presteigne Festival Orchestra
Conductor   George Vass
Soloists / Players   Pauline Lowbury (violin), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola), Gemma Rosefield (cello)

Single movement

Audio Samples

Opening pages  --  listen while viewing a score sample
Ending  --  listen while viewing a score sample


Edward Clark, Classical Source

There was a premiere from James Francis Brown, a young composer with an immense future if this work is anything to go by. His Trio Concertante for string trio and string orchestra displays that rich vein of English lyricism found in earlier masters such as Tippett (Corelli Fantasia) and Elgar (Introduction and Allegro). There is also a nod to Delius at the opening, with the violin beginning a melodic cantilena passed onto the viola and cello in sequence. But it is far from being a wallow in nostalgia. Instead, it is wonderfully alive and maintained interest even in the orchestral interludes, where Vass urged his players to heights of eloquence. There are passages where the ghost of Elgar seems to be captured in an entirely original way, the soloists passing one gorgeous melody after an other.

The tricky problem of writing music for such a homogeneous sounding group was surveyed and solved by Brown's instinctive grasp for melody within a free-ranging harmonic structure that sounds fresh and invigorating.

Martin Anderson, Toccata Press

It is very rare, and a real tonic, these days to hear music which is so unashamedly happy. I've since played the work again and again on the CD compiled from the 2006 first performances and I can't tire of it: it continually fulfils its initial promise. The list of outstanding British string pieces is a long one: VW's Tallis Fantasia, Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, Britten's Bridge variations, Grace Williams' Sea Sketches, ...and more. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Trio Concertante join that happy company - as, indeed, the happiest of them all.

Programme Notes

I was delighted to be asked to write a piece for the final concert of 2006 Presteigne Festival, particularly as Presteigne had become such an important part of my musical life. I was also inspired by George Vass's notion of a concertante work for string trio and string orchestra. This medium has specific challenges, such as allowing the soloists to stand out against the homogeneity of the string orchestra and sharing the solo material evenly. The comparative lack of contrast in timbre also places a greater demand on the strength of melodic invention.

The form of this single movement work is quite straightforward. It starts with a flowing moderato, which becomes increasingly forceful before giving way to a more reflective second subject. This in turn gives way to a short slow movement, which acts as a development and allows a gentle cadenza-like freedom. There follows a recapitulation, which is intensified and sustains momentum until the end.

The connection to the English tradition is clear, yet I hope that the work is fresh and pleasing. It is dedicated to George Vass with affection and gratitude.

Score Samples

Click a score sample below to view a larger version of the score...

Opening pages


Related News

Performance: Trio Concertante

Friday 25th August 2017, 7.45pm

Celebration concert for George Vass, Event 7 of the Presteigne Festival 2017.

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London Premiere: Trio Concertante


Wednesday 10th May 2017, 7.30pm

A 60th birthday celebration for George Vass.

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Tuesday 29th August 2006

Part of the Presteigne Festival.

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