184.108.40.206-220.127.116.11-perc(1):vib/marimba/susp.cym/hi hat/brake dr/claves/guiro/cowbell/2 wdbl/bamboo wind chimes/tamb-strings(min:18.104.22.168.1)
The last movement contains pre-recorded playback tracks. They are available from the publisher with the performance materials. The piece requires a computer and an audio playback system. The speakers should be placed in the back of the stage, behind the players, and relatively low to the ground. The samples should be triggered by the percussionist, who should also have some control of the volume level, so that in rehearsals the dynamic levels of the samples may be fine-tuned
Piano Concerto, commissioned by Miller Theatre, was written for pianist Emma Tahmiziàn. This is fitting, not only because I greatly admire her playing, but because having worked with her quite often in the past, it tends to be her sound, her articulation, that I hear in my head whenever I’m writing a piece that involves piano.
The three movements of the concerto, marked fluid, edgy, and soft, create an obvious association with an 18th-century concerto, though the actual character and structure of the movements and their relationship to one another is quite different. With frequent crescendos and diminuendos, wave-like chords dominate the first movement. Even the two virtuosic passages for the piano solo are reminiscent of ocean waves, in these case intense, massive walls of water surging forward. The second movement, with it’s quick pace, sustained intensity, and unrelenting drive is something like an edgy retake of a movement from a Prokofiev piano concerto (whose concertos I admire for their wit and imaginative use of sonority). Like the extended middle of Winter’s Tale set in Bohemia, it functions not just as diversion, but also to create a sense of time having elapsed between the first and third movements. Quietness and introversion predominate in the last movement. The piano plays a single melodic line throughout which generally reverberates out into the orchestra, like waves rippling in a pond. Time has elapsed and now fragments of the first movement return as ethereal memories, through a series of pre-recorded samples. The last of these begins to reveal the source—not of the samples themselves, but of the material of the first movement—a recording of a single ocean wave, creating a circular relation between the outer movements: wave, music, memory, wave….
— Sebastian Currier
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.