I – Allegro vivo
II – Molto tranquillo
III – Passacaglia (Andante moderato – Allegro moderato – Più allegro – Allegro vivace – Presto)
Elcock began this concerto in 1996 or thereabouts, making it an early work in his output. For a long time there was just the first movement, and it was originally scored for strings alone. After the slow movement there was another long gap till the composer got round to the finale in 2006, prompted by the fact that it was going to be performed by the amateur orchestra that Elcock conducted for ten years in south-east France.
The first movement represents the composers desire to achieve a return to the classical momentum that had largely been lost throughout the Romantic era and onward. The energy is unflagging, verging on the desperate, relief being provided only by the two appearances of the expansive second theme; but even this is underpinned by a niggling rhythm in the violas, deriving from a typical piece of sarcastic nastiness into which the various elements making up the first subject have coalesced.
The second movement provides a welcome contrast. Its opening makes use of change-ringing techniques applied to slowly moving scales in violins and violas, evoking distant bells ringing across a valley. The first subject material is developed by the soloist against this background, ultimately arriving at a second idea marked Pavane. The development is mainly concerned with the first subject material, leading to a return of the pavane in the highest register of the violin against chiming oboes and violins – a very strange sound, this. When everything is suddenly cranked up a tone into a radiant D major, the music becomes almost tearfully joyous for a while, before gradually fading away, the distant bells reluctantly ceasing their ringing.
The short finale is a passacaglia incorporating a gradual accelerando from andante to presto. It culminates in a severely logical rendering of the passacaglia theme as a duet for the unusual combination of solo violin and timpani.