Piano Concerto

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*Listen*

The Piano Concerto for piano and large orchestra was written especially for William Koseluk and the Czech Radio Orchestra as part of their historic first American tour in 1998. Mr. Koseluk writes the following about the concerto:

“With an intensity and gestural language in the tradition of the Brahms D minor, the Liszt E-flat major and other notable works in the same genre, John Carbon’s Piano Concerto makes an effective new mark in a medium too long overburdened with the piano-as-noise. Indeed, this new work recognizes the piano as melodic and seeks to exploit this instrument in a manner that shows its many riches and colors. This is not to suggest that the work is a throwback to sentiment or a mere example of neo-romanticism. Rather, it is certainly new, with enough complex formal and harmonic constructs - disjunct in the romantic mold - to escape being seen as a return to a bygone era. Certainly, polychordal and dissonant dialogues between orchestra and piano bring this piece to the contemporary field. Serenity, though, and tender melodic consideration are also an important part of the compositional fabric and provide the listener with a rich, varied, experience.

It was the composer’s intent to vaguely imitate the compositional and performing temperament of the premiering pianist (William Koseluk). In fact, a key theme in the piece is a partial paraphrase of one of Koseluk’s early melodies, a composition dedicated to Mr. Carbon. In the Piano Concerto, though, the treatment is very new and different.

The theme is presented and developed, but it is actually encapsulated within a larger set of chordal and technical movements which treat this melody more as a harmonic element, rather than a specific melody to be played, repeated, developed, and sentimentalized.

The work is in one movement, with three sections. The first is grand and dynamic: the section demands decisive interaction and declamation between all forces. Many motives and thematic fragments are presented, all of which are recapitulated at different times for different purposes. The second section contrasts, with a lyric melody with a rather original sentiment very much in the character of Carbon’s lyric writing. The final section is whimsical, yet very technically demanding for the pianist. This movement certainly reveals the composer’s skill in writing for the instrument, allowing the performer to show much technique, in a manner appropriate to the instrument, while also showing the instrument’s lyric and harmonious side as well.”

The Piano Concerto has been recorded by William Koseluk for the MMC label.

Selected Performances of Piano Concerto

American Premiere: November 30, 1998, William Koseluk, pianist, with the Czech Radio Orchestra of Prague, Vladimír Válek, musical director, as part of their Boston-Prague Contemporary Music Festival, and first American Tour, Symphony Hall, Boston

European Premiere: May 3, 1999, William Koseluk, pianist, with the Czech Radio Orchestra of Prague, Vladimír Válek, musical director, as part of their Boston-Prague Contemporary Music Festival, Smetana Hall, Prague

© John Carbon 2015