'The craft is astounding, the orchestration ceaselessly brilliant. The voice is wholly his own.' New York Times

Instrumentation

3(III=picc+afl).3(III=ca).3(I in Bb, II in A, III in Bb=bcl).3(III=cbsn) – 4231 – timp+roto tom – perc(3): glsp/xyl/bass.mar/4 tuned gongs/2 susp.cym/choke susp.cym/siz.cym/small crash.cym/cast/wdbl/small tamb/large c/bell(or reco-reco)/guero/2 or more whips/tam-t/SD/BD (with mounted cym – machine) – strings

Availability

Full score, two piano rehearsal score and parts in preparation

Programme Notes

Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Kirill Gerstein

Duration: 22 minutes

The first movement Allegramente opens with a statement of the theme by piano and then tutti. A march-like bridge passage leads to the more expressive second subject, first played by the piano and then taken up by the orchestra. The development section interrogates the first theme before an octave mini-cadenza leads to the recapitulation ff. There is then a solo cadenza based on the second subject, first played tremolo and then over many octaves, the piano joined first by the horn and then by full orchestra. The movement ends with a coda based on the first theme and the march.

The second movement Andante gravemente consists of a chordal introduction and a melody, which is joined by a countermelody, and a second idea with a simple falling melody over rising harmony. The first melody reappears, leading to a fortissimo climax, subsiding to a final statement of the original theme and a coda based on the countermelody.

The finale Allegro giojoso begins with a three-chord call to arms, and then a tumbling theme for piano and orchestra, which is interrupted by the blustering entry of a clarinet solo, heralding a burlesque canon. There is here a good deal of argument, with frequent differences of opinion as regards key, brought to an end by the call to arms. Eventually the piano takes up a new theme in the style of a ball bouncing down stairs and develops it to a choral climax. The tumbling material is developed, and the call to arms is heard in multiple directions leading to an impasse, a winding down of tempo, and a new slow (Grave) section in three time with a falling theme. This leads to a precipice which the piano falls off with the original tumbling theme, and a coda lining up all the other themes for a final resolution on the call to arms.

Thomas Adès​

The first performance was given by Kirill Gerstein with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Adès, at Symphony Hall, Boston, on 7 March 2019

Reviews

'It is not unusual to find today’s composers mining the music of the past, but nobody does it with the panache or originality of Adès.'
Financial Times (Richard Fairman), 23 October 2019
 
'As ever, the craft is astounding, the orchestration ceaselessly brilliant. The voice is wholly his own – dissonant, offbeat, whiplash, wry – even as it whispers to musics past… This breathless, 20-minute concerto, structured in three essentially traditional movements (fast, slow, fast), comes across as zesty and accessible. But don’t be fooled. Just below the surface, the music sizzles with modernist harmonies, fractured phrases, gaggles of counterpoint and lyrical strands that keep breaking into skittish bits. The finale is a riotous, clattering, assaultive romp. I can’t wait to hear it again.'
New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 21 March 2019
 
'As Kirill Gerstein and the London Philharmonic sprinted to the end of the zanily cartoonish finale, I heard amazed gasps and even a shout of “Wow!” The last time I witnessed that sort of instantaneous rave response to piano music in the Festival Hall was when Vladimir Horowitz played Chopin… I think it’s more a statement of enormous confidence in the ability of 21st-century music to inhabit the same contours as the great concertos of the past, yet still draw us into fresh and surprising vistas.'
The Times (Richard Morrison), 24 October 2019
 
'The ecstatic response of the audience suggests that – provided pianists can be found with Gerstein’s authority – this vividly original work may have a prosperous life to come.'
Independent (Michael Church), October 2019
 
'But at its heart, this stirring and complex score conveys an almost romantic sense of tension and release – the demanding solo writing and long-coming resolve recall Rachmaninoff’s much lusher concertos. The effect is mesmerizing, and the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra stands as Adès’ greatest achievement to date.'
Boston Classical Review (Aaron Keebaugh), 8 March 2019

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

***CANCELLED*** part of an Adès focus across season

Berwaldhallen (Stockholm, Sweden)

Thomas Adès, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

***CANCELLED***

Symphony Hall (Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Powell Hall (St Louis, MO, USA)

Kirill Gerstein, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, John Storgårds

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Powell Hall (St Louis, MO, USA)

Kirill Gerstein, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, John Storgårds

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Symphony Center (Chicago, IL, USA)

Kirill Gerstein, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Adès