Feature: The Alternative Concerto 


 

No-one would dispute that the piano and the violin are the most frequently heard concerto instruments, with the cello probably settling for third place.  What, though, of the rest of the instrumental arsenal?  Virtually every instrument has a place in the concerto repertoire, offering great scope for the armchair critic to decide how well various composers acquit themselves when writing for alternative instruments in this most mercurial of forms. Play now 

Vivaldi: Mandolin Concerto in C
Certainly the best-loved of Vivaldi's offerings for this diminutive instrument, this is one of those pieces which you simply can't switch off once it's up and running.  The first four bars are one of music's most distinctive signatures. 

Telemann: Trumpet Concerto in D
Its movements in turn poignant and sprightly - in the case of the fourth, almost jocular - this is a finely crafted piece which provides a perfect balance between the solo and orchestral parts. 

Darius Milhaud: Modere from Percussion Concerto
The percussion concerto was a late arrival on the concert platform, mainly due to improvements in the relevant instrument technology during the 20th century.  That said, it's a modern, but not a new, idea - this piece, for example, dates from around 1930. 

Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B Flat
The bassoon concerto has enjoyed something of a revival with the works of Fogg, Hope and Hargrave (all available via our service), but here's a favourite (relatively speaking) from Mozart, featuring a typically rich orchestral backdrop against which the solo part takes on a stately, almost regal quality. 

Villa-Lobos: Guitar Concerto
More often alluded to than played at present, this work offers a heady mixture which draws on everything from Bach to indigenous Brazilian music. 

John Stanley: Organ Concerto in E
A good way of provoking Bach lovers is to maintain than other composers had a far better grasp of the articulation and dynamics of the pipe organ.  Stanley offers some useful evidence! 

Buddy Childers Big Band: Just Buddy's
The jazz equivalent of the concerto is surely the big band fronted by a soloist.  Here's a generously-stuffed album that fits the bill and which also happens to feature a slightly less commonplace instrument, the fluegelhorn. 

Gamelan Orchestra of San San: Procession for the Offerings
Gamelan music, indigenous to Indonesia, Bali and Java, can also be fronted by a soloist.