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