Ben Weber & Charles Wuorinen: Piano Concertos
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL239     Release Date: 2010-08-15
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; William Masselos, piano; Gerhard Samuel, conductor; Charles Wuorinen, piano; James Dixon, Conductor

Ben Weber's Concerto For Piano And Orchestra, Op. 52, was commissioned by William Masselos through the Ford Foundation. It received its world premiere at the hands of Mr. Masselos, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1961, the year of its completion, at which time the New York Herald Tribune reported that it was “not only imaginative, it has wit and elan—a virtuoso composition in the best concerto tradition.”

The music is constructed in Weber's personal interpretation of the "tone-row" technique of serial composers. Although the directions to the performer say “decisive”, the composer describes the first movement as a fantasia. It has a distinct development and concludes with a recognizable reprise of the early material. The second movement, In memoriam, Dmitri Mitropoulos, is somber and elegiac. Its middle section is a passacaglia with five variations and a coda. The finale is described as “a rondo with complications but no rhythmic doubts.” It ends with a mysterious coda and a bang.

Charles Wuorinen's Piano Concerto dates from 1966, the same period as his Concerto For Flute And Chamber Orchestra, but is on a considerably larger scale. The orchestra is of traditional instrumentation (triple winds) but makes use of a nine-man percussion section. The percussion department acts as a multi-voiced, multi-textured unit, much of the time, with a thoroughly-heard musical (rather than punctuation) function that is characteristic of Wuorinen's work.

Mr. Wuorinen adds:

“Since the Concerto is in a single movement, the various contrasts of speed, texture, and so forth, that occupy different movements in older pieces, here are all present simultaneously in a multi-layered continuity. Even the general pauses may be considered windows in the piece opening on the silence in which it swims.”



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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Ben Weber & Charles Wuorinen: Piano Concertos

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Track Listing

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.53: I. Deciso, non tanto allegro
Ben Weber
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Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.53: II. Andantino, con rubato
Ben Weber
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Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.53: III. Allegro
Ben Weber
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Piano Concerto
Charles Wuorinen
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