Audio excerpts appear at the bottom of the post.
This inspired me to compile a few audio samples of recent piano concerti (written between 1997 and 2010) that similarly convey a unique perspective.
Hans Abrahamsen's Piano Concerto (1998) starts with undulating patterns in the piano surrounded by busily plucking strings and swelling winds. Within 25 seconds, the fast-paced rhythmic activity is sharply cut off, replaced by sustained chords that paralyze the harmonic rhythm while simultaneously maintaining and even elevating the overall dramatic intensity. All of this happens in less than two minutes. The enigmatic and unconcerto-like nature of this brief movement yields a powerful entry point into the piece. Audio of the complete first movement is posted below.
The notion of unusual proportions is also applicable to Jason Eckardt's Trespass (2005), which the composer describes in the following way:
"My composition for piano and chamber ensemble establishes formal boundaries between thirteen telescoping sections, each slightly more than half the length of its immediate predecessor. The opening, longer sections contain several contrasting subsections that are united by the necessary relief that they provide through internal proportional and tensional balance. As the later sections are radically diminished in length, their contents — some of which have been displaced from previous sections — become more homogenous and the juxtapositions between them are intensified. This formal contraction produces an implosive momentum that brings the work to its turbulent conclusion."
The clip below is taken from one of the longer, multi-faceted sections. In this case, different instruments take turns ricocheting off of the bounding piano. The brusque nature of this starting texture makes it easy to overlook how seamlessly the piano and ensemble exchange foreground and background roles during the first half of the excerpt. This back-and-forth interaction between soloist and ensemble coupled with intricate surface level detailing, make it well worth your time to take in multiple listenings. Special thanks to Jason for providing the excerpt.
While Regis Campo's aesthetic differs from Eckardt's, the clip provided here similarly involves a piano-centric introduction out of which the orchestra carefully emerges. For further thoughts on Regis Campo's Piano Concerto (1998), please see my previous post which includes audio excerpts of his chamber music.
For a full recap and analysis of Bent Sørensen's La mattina, check out this post on the 5:4 blog.
Lastly, in addition to the streaming audio below, I recommend these clips (to listen, click the links):
Arlene Sierra - Art of War (2010) (movement 2: Strategic Siege)
Arlene Sierra describes this movement as follows:
"In this movement the role of soloist is changed from instigator to saboteur. Its gestures chip away at a wall of sound created by the orchestra, subtly manipulating it until the orchestra follows the lead of the piano and succumbs to its persuasive power."
Though brief, the excerpts for the Haas concerti are quite striking. Both of these pieces need to be performed in the US immediately. I am also eagerly awaiting a commerical recording.
Do you have any favorite piano concerti from the last 10-20 years? Please feel free to share in the comments section.