Concerto for piano solo (homage to Alkan)

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2015) Concerto for piano solo (homage to Alkan). [Composition]


This work was written as a homage to the 19th-century French composer, Charles-Valentin Alkan, the specific reference point being Alkan’s Concerto for Piano Solo Op.39 nos 8-10 (1857).

As an exemplar of a highly rarified genre, Alkan’s Concerto has no real precursors and only three successors in the public literature: Sorabji’s Concerto per suonare da me solo (1946), and Michael Finnissy’s Piano Concerto No 4 (1978-96) and No 6 (1980-81). The idea of evoking orchestral or other instrumental sounds at the keyboard is not new, but as a concept it has been articulated in the literature on music surprisingly infrequently, especially from the point of view of practical pianism. One source where detailed recommendations can be found is Alfred Brendel’s essay ‘Liszt’ (Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts, London, 1976). I have been inspired by, and have drawn on, Brendel’s suggestions in my conception of the piece’s imaginary ‘orchestration’ (as manifested through performance directions in the score and specific articulations in performance), seeking to give the impression of both orchestral accompaniment and piano sound through one keyboard.

This being a work of homage, in a couple of places I have used direct quotations from Alkan’s oeuvre: the end of the first movement of his Symphony, Op.39 no 4 (b.1) and the trio of the Scherzo Diabolico Op.39 no 3 (b.5); other more subtle allusions occur elsewhere. In a sense, my concerto starts where Alkan’s symphonic movement (Op.39 no 4 in C minor) leaves off. While the four movements of the concerto proper use determinate notation, I have introduced an element of indeterminacy in the cadenza, which is to be prepared or improvised in response to graphic-score elements – referencing both the earlier Classical/Romantic tradition of improvised cadenzas, and post-1950 experimentalism .

Item Type: Composition
Additional Information: ISMN: 9790570681679
Dedicated to Gabriel Keen.
First performance (original version): 3rd November 2013, St Mary’s Old Church Arts Centre, London N16
Second performance: 28th November 2013, Middlesex University, London NW4
Third performance (first of definitive score): 23rd November 2014, Sutton House, London E9
Published June 2015
Duration: 22-23'.
Available on Living Stones, Sargasso SCD28081: track 6 (Concerto) Performed by Gabriel Keen.
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
Item ID: 17536
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2015 09:10
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2020 13:12

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