Movement 1: Largo – Allegro – Maestoso
Movement 2: Larghissimo
Movement 3: Allegro – Agitato – Lento – Stringendo
The middle movement, originally written as a Larghissimo but changed to Largo in the revised 1950 score, incorporates a wondrously serene cantabile style of piano writing not often found in Stravinsky’s music of the 1920s. The movement’s two melismatic cadenzas carry a very rare rubato marking, while the pianistic writing is clearly rooted in the highly ornate filigree so often encountered in the slow movements of Beethoven’s early piano sonatas.
The closing Allegro, with its percussive opening material built around open fourths and fifths, exhibits a satirical pastiche blending café tunes, jazz rhythms and even a Baroque-styled fughetta that appears out of nowhere. Taken as a whole, the movement bears a clear relationship to the keyboard toccatas of the eighteenth century, with rapid changes of contrasting and often seemingly unrelated material. Stravinsky performed the work nearly fifty times over the next few years, and its success spawned the composition of several subsequent works for solo piano, two pianos, piano and orchestra, and piano and violin.
from notes by Charles M Joseph © 2013