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Piano Concerto No 3 in A flat major 'Concerto espressivo', Op 170
completed on 24 October 1874; first performed by the composer in Cologne on 2 March 1875; unpublished; autograph score and parts in the University Library of Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt am Main

'Hiller: Piano Concertos' (CDA67655)
Hiller: Piano Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67655 
Movement 1: Allegro con anima
Movement 2: Andante quasi adagio
Movement 3: Allegro con spirito

Piano Concerto No 3 in A flat major 'Concerto espressivo', Op 170
Hiller completed the score of his Piano Concerto No 3 in A flat major ‘Concerto espressivo’ Op 170 on 24 October 1874, and then wrote out the orchestral parts. The sixty-three-year-old performed his new concerto, after some delay, on 2 March 1875 in Cologne at one of the Gürzenich concerts. It was well received. The very title draws attention to the concept and character of this work, Hiller’s last piano concerto. Detailed markings vouch for the importance of ‘expression’, which is in no way restricted to the piano part.

The first movement, Allegro con anima, exhibits orthodox sonata form, even if individual parts of the structure seem considerably elongated. The exposition of the themes is divided between the orchestra and soloist. The orchestra introduces the first lyrical (dolce) theme, the piano the second theme with its simple cantabile melody (molto espressivo). Both orchestra and soloist are equally involved in the movement which, for a concerto, involves unusually dense treatment of motifs and themes.

The Andante quasi adagio also manifests a marked dovetailing between piano and orchestra. The structure, with its numerous changes of key and rhythm, as well as of tempo, is formally complex. It is noticeable that the themes are no longer developed in a strict order, and vary in their form. A remarkable feature of the movement are the unaccompanied arabesques woven by the piano.

The final, loosely structured Allegro con spirito begins with an orchestral introduction. The movement is twice interrupted by a fermata, after which the piano enters and, unaccompanied, announces the Ländler-like, free-ranging first subject (dolce, con grazia). Like the lyrical second subject (dolce), introduced by the orchestra, it is divided between soloist and orchestra. Further motifs are introduced principally by the piano, which, because of its part in the musical development, has little room for exuberant virtuoso flourishes.

Since the Piano Concerto No 3 was published neither as an orchestral piece nor as a version for piano alone, it was not widely performed and was, after the first few performances, scarcely heard. It was presumed lost as late as the 1920s. An autograph score and a set of orchestral parts do exist, however, in the University Library of Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt am Main.

from notes by Eva Hanke İ 2008
English: Roland Smithers

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Details for CDA67655 track 8
Andante quasi adagio
Recording date
17 May 2007
Recording venue
Government House, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan
Hyperion usage
  1. Hiller: Piano Concertos (CDA67655)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: April 2008
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