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Poul Ruders

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Klaverkoncert nr. 2 (2009)
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
23 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Poul Ruders Klaverkoncert nr. 2 (2009)
Dedicated to Becky Starobin / Written for Vassily Primakov
Commissioned by The Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Jerome Lowenthal

In this day and age, when faced with the challenge of writing a ‘piano concerto’, e.g. a piece for symphony orchestra and an all-dominating and virtuosic solo-piano part, one has two options: either: DO, or do NOT go for it whole-sale, exploiting and enjoying the cornucopia of sonorous treasures offered by the combination of the orchestra and ‘grand piano’. I have opted to go for it. When writing for one of our great young international piano stars, it would be absurd, and a waste, to do anything less and only ‘nibble at the goodies’.

However, the piece is not a big, chunky ‘machine’. Rather it is a transparently
orchestrated neo-classic (for lack of a better word) composition in three movements,
lasting approximately 25 minutes.

The piece begins with a moderately paced opening, in which the piano gradually gathers
momentum and strength, beginning with the most gentle of motifs. In this movement
the soloist and orchestra do not always agree, and the vigilant listener will observe the
disparity between the two. Following a swift, up-beat coda, the movement stops,
almost in mid-breath, on one of the gentle piano chords taken from the very opening.

The extreme simplicity of the second movement, Semplice (the opening piano-solo
bears the marking: “slightly hesitant - like a child practicing”) is, after having been joined by vibraphone, harp and solo-violin, suddenly violated with unprecedented brutality by the rest of the orchestra, which virtually ‘lies in wait - panting to pounce’. But eventually calm and order is restored.

The finale is a crazy rondo of sorts. The marking ‘Avanti Risoluto’ (Forward with
Resolve), is a bit of an understatement. It is a full throttle, no holds barred ride – and
hopefully lots of fun for everybody.

- Poul Ruders, February 2010

Score preview

  • Bridge:
  • Ensemble
    Norwegian Radio Orchestra
    Vassily Primakov (piano)
    Thomas Søndergaard
Madcap, eclectic and teeming with drama.
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times,12/06/2011
An invigorating, inspiriting release, which deserves an enthusiastic take-up.
Martin Anderson, Internation Record Review,01/06/2011
One of my favorite piano concertos.
Garrett Schumann, Sequenza 21,04/04/2011
It certainly is a masterful work.
Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sentinel,01/04/2011
It leaves a profound impression that stays with you long after hearing it.
Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sentinel ,01/04/2011
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