Full Works Concert Highlight of the Week: George Lloyd - Piano Concerto No.3

Anne-Marie Minhall - sitting in for Jane Jones on the Full Works Concert - picks George Lloyd's Piano Concerto No.3 as her highlight of the week.

In a week of amazing and diverse Full Works Concerts, it's been hard to pull out one highlight in particular - but I must say I am especially looking forward to exploring the music of George Lloyd on Friday evening, on the exact day that this under-appreciated composer was born 100 years ago.

George Lloyd's extraordinary life is a story of triumph over adversity. His star as a composer was very much on the ascendent when the Second World War broke out. In 1942, he was serving with the Royal Marines as a Bandsman onboard the cruiser HMS Trinidad when it fired a faulty torpedo which hit the ship itself. Many of Lloyd's shipmates were drowned and he was the last to escape from their compartment. For decades afterwards the composer suffered severe mental and physical trauma from the event.

Lloyd and his wife took up residence in Dorset where they lived quietly, growing mushrooms and carnations. He still managed to compose regularly in the early hours of the morning, before the start of the rest of his day spent running their market garden.

His third piano concerto of 1968 turned out to be Lloyd's longest piano concerto, full of memorable themes, vigorously performed in our recording by Kathryn Stott with the composer himself conducting. 

'Apart from the Fourth Symphony,' said Lloyd, 'my first three piano concertos are the only works in which I consciously took the Second World War period as a starting point in my mind. This may lead the listener to expect nothing but brutality and other of our nasty characteristics; he would be wrong; there was also gaiety, love and all the gentler sides of humanity as well as the horror.'

I like to think that this excellent concerto could be said to mark the start of an extraordinary and productive Indian Summer for George Lloyd, during which he finally began to get the acclaim he deserved at the end of his life.