Edward Gregson is one of Britain's most versatile composers, whose music has been performed, broadcast and recorded worldwide. A noted conductor of contemporary music, he has also held numerous academic posts. He retires as Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music at the end of this academic term. Gregson's life-long fascination for the concerto form began early but having been brought up in a Salvationist family it was inevitable that the brilliant sound of the British brass band should play an important role in the early years of his composing career. This led to a parallel universe of musical experiences. ‘On the one hand I was playing music by some fine brass band composers and on the other being absorbed in the music of Bartok, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Webern, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Tippett and others.' This musical landscape greatly influences his compositional style to this day. ‘...my concertos use musical reference or homage, as a backbone to the work. Each uses the idea of musical tribute in a different way.'
The Concerto for Piano and Wind and Saxophone Concerto, in particular, pay tribute to those composers whose concertos Gregson loved when he was a teenager. In the slow movement of the Saxophone Concerto Gregson actually quotes the opening of the Berg Violin Concerto, ‘mainly because my own musical fabric in that movement is built on a twelve-note row with a strong reference to major and minor thirds. In my Trumpet Concerto, the slow movement uses Shostakovich's musical cipher DSCH as the main reference point to what is an In Memoriam to the Russian master who had died not long before I started writing the work.'
'...most absorbing and enjoyable ...performed, recorded and engineered at the usual top-grade Chandos standards.' Tempo magazine
'...The BBC Philharmonic and Clark Rundell, a conductor of much experience with contemporary music, are on top form, the quality of the recording and excellent booklet-essay by Paul Hindmarsh are all one would expect from Chandos.' ClassicalSource.com
'The trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen plays two blazing quick movements with zip around a morose testimonial to Shostakovich. The pianist Nelson Goerner summons Rachmaninov, Bartok and Bernstein in a rudely exuberant work, while the saxophonist Nobua Sugawa quotes Berg and hints at the Pink Panther with his misty, sore-throat tone. Rundell conducts with precision. Gregson's concerti - he plans one for every instrument - are already an exciting collection.' The Times
'This new Chandos disc builds upon earlier releases, notably the Clarinet and Violin Concertos, which emerged as a substantial evaluation of his work in 2002 that took place in Manchester (where Gregson has been Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music for more than a decade).' International Record Review
'If one of the touchstones of enduring worth in classical music is the ability to keep in touch with the popular language of the time - and I for one believe it is - the Edward Gregson's music is going to be valued long after the more exoteric creations of today are consigned to the museum. Never simplistic, he is aware of a broad culture - and a brilliant craftsman in writing for the orchestra. These three concertos (all premiere recordings) make that clear.' Manchester Evening News
'Edward Gregson has made a speciality of concertos, and has a flair for exploring the character of the solo instruments in new and appealing ways. Ole Edward Antonsen is a virtuosic soloist in the Trumpet concert, which boasts a deeply felt slow movement. The wide-ranging concerto for piano and wind is dazzlingly played by Nelson Goerner, but perhaps the finest work is the Saxophone Concerto, full of exciting tone-colours and catering for Nobuya Sugawa's amazing skills. Clark Rundell is the insightful conductor.' Sunday Telegraph
'Perhaps the most remarkable of all is the Saxophone Concerto, a dazzling cornucopia of ideas and jazzy dance episodes, even reaching pandemonium at times, but again with a lyrical core and another haunting slow movement...This would surely bring the house down at a Prom. All three performances are outstanding, showing the bravura and sensitivity of the soloists and their complete integration with the orchestra and conductor, who directs with spirit and alluring sensuous feeling. The recording is of Chandos' demonstration standard and this collection cannot be too highly recommended.' Gramophone