The piano concerto emerged from the 18th century keyboard concerto as a display vehicle for the new instrument – the fortepiano, and the new breed of virtuoso pianist-composers who wrote concertos for their own use. Mozart took the form to heights never dreamed off by his contemporaries, and his 27 concertos paved the way for the piano concertos of the next 100 years. Some of the works of by his contemporaries could be performed with just a few instruments accompanying the soloist. For Mozart, the interplay between the piano and a full orchestra’s textures and colours were important. The modern piano concerto had been born.
Beethoven took the 18th century virtuoso concerto (Mozart’s 20th and 2Fourth being his models) and with his Third, Fourth and Fifth concertos created the romantic concerto. The piano had developed rapidly in the early years of the 19th century, and Beethoven’s works exploit the greater range and power of the new instrument, and are symphonic in style. Brahms took this a stage further composing 2 huge concertos, which are almost symphonies with piano. One critic called his titanic First concerto ‘a concerto for piano against orchestra’!
However, the tradition of the virtuoso display concerto continued with Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. Their concertos combined the Mozartian refinement with romantic gestures, and, in the case of Liszt extraordinary virtuosity with thunderous and dazzling effects. He also transformed the structure of the concerto from the traditional 3 - movement form to a cyclical multi-section one-movement work.
The epitome the 19th and early 20th romantic century piano concerto are those of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Both composers wrote concertos that have remained the most popular in the repertoire since their premiers.
The image of the virtuoso pianist has proved to be an enduring one, and this collection contains some of the greatest piano concertos, and is a superb introduction to the exciting world of classical music.
- An ideal gift for someone venturing into classical music for the first time.
- Includes great artists such as Alfred Brendel and Nelson Freire.