The Allegro de concert in A major Op 7 for piano and orchestra was published and first performed, with the composer as soloist, in 1889. Stasov described it as ‘energetic and captivating’. Liszt’s concertos are an obvious influence, especially in terms of texture and piano-writing. The opening moves from B minor through B flat major before arriving at the home key of A major. The march-like main theme is full of joy and optimism, and is followed by a linking passage (poco più tranquillo) where the piano accompanies a beautiful oboe solo (at 2'20''). The second theme, in E major (poco meno mosso, at 3'01''), with an oriental flavour typical of Glinka and Rubinstein (as well as Balakirev, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov), is announced first by the piano and then taken over by the orchestra against the soloist’s leggiero arpeggios. Extended pianistic figurations—the work’s debt to Lisztian keyboard devices is clear—lead to a lyrical minor-key version of the main theme (at 5'43''), with harp-like accompanying passages from the piano. The first theme is then fragmented and undergoes a series of modulations, the piano continuing to provide a backdrop of repeating virtuoso patterning, before the arrival of the recapitulation (meno mosso (tempo I) e maestoso, at 7'32''). A cadenza then further develops the main thematic ideas before the second theme is heard on the clarinet. The piano-writing becomes more intricate and sophisticated, with challenging double notes, as the second theme sings with increasing radiance. The piano then reintroduces the main motif as an ingenious counterpoint to the second theme, played fortissimo by the orchestra (più mosso, at 12'09''), in an ecstatic culmination to this captivating work.
from notes by Evgeny Soifertis © 2005