First performance: 9 March 2008, Cologne
Symphony Orchestra WDR,
Conductor: Stephan Ashbury
GrauSchumacher piano duo
The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is a reworking of CAP-KO, written in 2005. That work was commissioned for the 125th anniversary of Béla Bartók´s birth by five European orchestras: Musica Viva Festival Munich, Suisse Romande, French Radio Philharmonic, Amsterdam´s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere of CAP-KO was given by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Munich, on January 26, 2006.
I revised the score for two acoustic pianos in 2007, this version (“Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra“) was premiered in Cologne on March 9, 2008, by soloists Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher and the West German Radio Orchestra under the direction of Stefan Asbury.
The five-movement concerto is an homage to Béla Bartók, with specific reference to two important characteristics of Bartók´s music: his frequent use of parallel scales and his fondness for the combination of piano with percussion.
The first movement opens with a trio of snare drums, on the left, the right, and the middle. The pitch produced by the drums varies according to the exact spot where the stick hits the drum. In this way, I composed a three-part “melodic” counterpoint for drums. As the soloists and the orchestra enter, this counterpoint expands in range and becomes highly diversified in timbre. Towards the end of this section, the rapid sixteenth-note runs of the strings make an unmistakable allusion to Bartók by recalling the last movement of the Concerto for Orchestra.