Diamond Concerto - Euphonium Concerto No 3

Diamond Concerto was commissioned by Musikverein Mörschied from Germany - Dr. Eric Grandjean, conductor - for a special concert featuring Steven Mead as guest soloist. Together they gave the world premiere on 28th April 2012 in the town theatre of Idar-Oberstein.

The commission is a highlight in the 30-year friendship between composer and soloist, which has included many mutual CD projects and concerts and, now, a concerto. Sparke had Steven Mead’s special euphonium sound in his head throughout the composition process and made free use of the variety of styles which the world-renowned virtuoso has made his own during his highly successful solo career.

The village of Mörschied lies to the west of Frankfurt am Main in the area known as the German Road of Precious Stones, which is famous for its thriving gem industry. Because of this is was decided to give the commission a local connection by chosing the title, Diamond Concerto. Each of the three movements is named after a famous diamond:-

1 EARTH STAR

is rather stern in mood, opening with a free fantasy for the soloist over a static chord from the band. This leads to an Allegro Moderato in minor mode where small motives are gradually repeated and developed by both band and soloist.

2 OCEAN DREAM

uses a varied quote from the composer’s Music for Battle Creek, including a melting slow melody that was originally written with Steven Mead in mind.

3 BLUE HEART

was written, at Steven Mead’s suggestion, in bebop style and takes the form of a jazz waltz. The quasi-improvisatory central section features a call-and-response passage for the soloist and upper woodwinds.