At Stratford’s “Last Night of the Proms” the focus of interest was on the world premiere of a “new” work by Arnold Bax.
His Concertino for Piano and Orchestra was started in 1939 and intended for his muse, the pianist Harriet Cohen, but found the prevailing political tension inhibited his creative abilities and it was abandoned.
The detective story of the work’s restoration is the subject of a forthcoming documentary.
So was the 70-year wait worth it? A definite yes. Despite its title this is a big-boned, full-length, virtuoso piano concerto. The brilliance of its writing and ambivalence of its moods make it a striking piece.
There is ambiguity in the luscious calm of the slow movement, but the finale brought reservations as the joviality of the material seemed forced.
Soloist Mark Bebbington and conductor David Curtis had great command, not only of the muscular demands of the virtuoso writing but also of the complex harmonic directions.