16 April 1985
Yvar Mikhashoff, piano / Alan Heatherington, conductor / The University of Buffalo Philharmonia
North American New Music Festival
2 Fls. (2nd also Picc.), 2 Obs. (2nd also E. Hn.), 2 Cls. (2nd also B.Cl.), 2 Bsns.; 4 Hns., 2 Tpts., 2 Trbs., Tuba; 4 Perc., Hp.; Solo Pn.; Strs.
Commissioned by Charles DeCarlo for his wife, Dorothy
Dedicated to Dorothy DeCarlo, an artist and cellist
This work is inspired by the broad, heroic, and urban landscapes found in the music of such American composers as George Gershwin and Aaron Copland. The melodic and angular first theme evokes and incorporates the clarinet solo that opens Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (1924); it is extended by a melodic fragment borrowed from Copland's Violin Sonata of 1943. The second theme is more chordal and interweaves with the opening material to arrive at several climactic moments.
Piano Concerto differs from more conventional solo concertos in that it is in one movement divided into two sections, and most of the drama does not come from the usual contrasting interplay between soloist and orchestra. In the first and longer section the piano plays the opening material alone, material which is repeated in part when the orchestra seemingly "pulls" the music out of the piano, extending, amplifying, and interacting with its melodies. The second section features the orchestra alone, exploring through additive repetitions the melodic fragment borrowed from the Copland sonata; eventually the piano asserts its way back into prominence and moves the work to its final climax.