'The craft is astounding, the orchestration ceaselessly brilliant. The voice is wholly his own.' New York Times
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
Full score, two piano rehearsal score and parts in preparation
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.
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