Author: Alan Charlton
The concerto appears in both the current OCR and AQA GCSE specifications. In the OCR specification, the topic of the Classical Concerto appears within Area of Study 2, Shared Music, and is used as an example of music that contrasts one solo instrument with orchestra, with knowledge being tested in the Listening Test (Unit B354). Detailed knowledge of specific compositions, composers and dates is not required: questions are based around listening skills, and are likely to focus on how the instrumental forces interact with each in a concerto, terminology associated with concertos and the classical period in general. The Unit B352 composition could draw on musical principles found in concertos (for instance in a virtuoso piece for a solo instrument with keyboard accompaniment).
In the AQA specification, the concerto appears under Strand 1, The Western Classical Tradition. The AQA strands are used as a basis for students to develop an understanding of the five areas of study (Rhythm & Metre, Harmony & Tonality, etc.). This knowledge is tested in the Listening Test taken at the end of the course. Knowledge of specific composers, dates and so on is not required: as with the AQA specification, the exam is focused on the elements of music and listening skills.
This article is primarily geared towards the OCR specification, but could equally be used for the AQA specification. It will introduce the concept and general background of concerto-style compositions, and then explore solo writing and how the soloist and orchestra interact, through a worksheet based on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.4 in G major, Movement III and other recordings of cadenzas. Read less...