A Concerto That Explores The Limitless Range of The Piano
A contemporary concerto by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage explores the vast range of musical ideas a piano can express. WRTI’s Susan Lewis spoke with pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, the soloist who premiered it, and who performs it again on Sunday, September 6th at 1 pm on WRTI’sPhiladelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast. Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts. Also on the program is music by Rachmaninoff.
Susan Lewis: Turnage, a classical composer influenced by jazz, wrote his first piano concerto with soloist Marc-Andre Hamelin in mind, although Hamelin demurs.
Marc-Andre Hamelin: It’s a piece in memory of Hans Werner Henze. So it's not specifically for me, but it was written for us to premiere.
SL: German composer Henze, who had encouraged Turnage in his career, died in October of 2012; the second movement of the concerto is called "Last Lullabye for Hans." The full work premiered in 2013, with Hamelin on piano and Yannick Nezet-Seguin leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Hamelin says it's challenging, unusual, and rewarding to play.
MAH: There are passages that require very diligent and slow practicing if you’re going to get them in your brain, because harmonically they are complicated...a couple of passages require a lot of displacement, movement across the keyboard. It's exciting...a lot of jazz inflections.
SL: The work showcases what a piano can do.
MAH: The piano is a limitless font – it's really a horn-of-plenty of color and emotion.