Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegro molto vivace
Like Schumann’s Piano Concerto, the slow movement Andante (in E flat major) has charm and simplicity. It begins with clarinets, bassoons, horns and pizzicato muted strings in dialogue with simple chordal material presented by the piano; it continues in this mood of lyrical cantando with almost inaudible lower-string reinforcement to sustain the bass line. The strings are muted throughout, which contrasts starkly with the Rondo finale that, having been introduced by a brass fanfare, bursts forth in a blaze of Polish bravura. This demands a spectacular display of technique, living proof of Wieniawski’s own brand of virtuosity. The piano-writing, particularly during unaccompanied episodes, is often characterized by clearly intended discords. It is as if Wieniawski distorts a consonant chord with a single ‘wrong’ note creating the impression of a ‘smudge’ (we hear a C natural in a chord of F sharp minor, or an E natural against E flats in a dominant seventh chord of F major). Perhaps this was a mischievous comment on contemporary pianists, and that he, the composer, would take charge of their slips by prescribing them in the score. With only sixteen bars rest in which to take breath in this finale, the soloist has much to say, and does so in spectacular fashion.
from notes by Christopher Fifield © 2010