The second movement is a real surprise. It is the tune “David” from Passion, Grace and Fire. Revising music and placing it in a different environment is hardly new but the lyricism of this tune is now given full reign. If the first movement has the joy of the Italian composers it would be appropriate if the David is Michelangelo’s. John’s rippling guitar work makes the most of the beautiful central theme and cross’s backwards and forward between Jazz and Spanish fault lines. At 4.45 the music making is utterly gorgeous as the cello echoes the melody that John plays with such delicacy. The tinkling of vibes offsets John’s continuing lyrical audacity with surges from the orchestra as the passion of the piece grows. As we move into the last 7 minutes Copland springs to mind. Now John is playing a full blown cadenza whose themes are taken up by the orchestra giving the music a relentless Shostakovich like feel and finally it comes down to a recapitulation of the main David tune with a quiet seductive sympathetic string arrangement-glorious music which makes you feel good to be alive!
This was a very clever piece of programming and gives the project breadth allowing the single concerto to stand out magnificently.