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Concerto for Piano and Orchestra




Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Instrumentation: Pno. Solo; 2(Picc.)-2(E.H.)-2-2; 4-3-2-2; Timp., 3Perc., Cel., Hp., Str.
Duration: 32 minutes
Commissionby Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Premiere: Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, conductor; Atlanta, Georgia, June 4, 2008
Score and Parts: Presser Rentals and Purchase
Piano Reduction: Presser.com
Score online: Preview and Purchase

Movements:   I.   Adagio tragicamente; Allegro vivace
                      II.  Distant Dreams
                      III. Allegro giocoso

 Audio Sample:

I. Adagio Tragicamente; Allegro vivace
II. Distant Dreams

III. Allegro giocoso


Program notes:

I was thrilled when Jean-Yves Thibaudet approached me to write a piano concerto for him.  My intention was to write a concerto that would capture his elegance and brilliance as well as his enormously colorful artistry.  I also saw this as an opportunity to weave my Persian roots into the fabric of a virtuoso concerto; a synthesis of old and new, East and West.

From my early years growing up in Iran, I was particularly attracted to the sound of Persian “Deraz Nay” (Alpine horn). Deraz Nay was used in grand celebrations of Nowruz (Persian New Year) in Persepolis (the capital of Persia, circa 500 B.C.) as well as in recent centuries for expression of grief and lamentation in Taziyeh (the Shiite liturgical drama). The opening theme heard by the horns and the accompanying heartbeat, played by the drums, evoke elements of these ancient rituals.  This theme is echoed throughout the concerto in many forms and characters, particularly in the powerful climaxes. The second theme is lyrical and scalar character, introduced by the solo piano at the beginning of the first cadenza.  These two themes are the melodic and harmonic basis of the three interrelated movements of the entire concerto.

The energetic first movement is the longest of the three and it is marked with huge orchestral passages as well as three piano cadenzas.  The harp often introduces the solo piano with a gentle and seductive character.  The duo passages for harp and solo piano highlight the lyrical and soft qualities of the piano.  It also contrasts the percussive passages in which the solo piano is battling the might of the orchestra. The character of Taziyeh (the Shiite liturgical drama) from the opening horn theme returns in a powerful and climactic orchestral unison that evokes passages of Marsiyeh Khani (the traditional Persian mourning singing).

The second movement is titled “Distant Dreams,” as it is haunting and nocturnal in character. It often engages the solo piano with only a few instruments in an intimate chamber setting.  A passage for harp and one hand piano completes this movement in one of the softest moments in the concerto.

The festive third movement begins with a solo piano cadenza.  “Daf”, a very large Persian framed drum, enhances the festive and dance-like character of this movement.  In Iran, Daf is often used in outdoor festivities and weddings. I particularly like the distinct sound of tens of brass rings hanging from the frame brushing against the skin of the drum. 

In this movement many passages from earlier movements are woven into a polyphonic texture.  It reaches a climax with a fugal passage for brass that mirrors a similar passage from the first movement.  The concerto, with continuous flashbacks to the earlier movements, races to the end with a huge burst of energy.

The score of the piano concerto is dedicated to Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

-Behzad Ranjbaran








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