Section 1: Andante molto sostenuto – Allegro
Section 2: Adagio molto tranquillo
The A minor Concerto is in two sections. The first begins Andante molto moderato with a gently swaying theme that emerges from the orchestral cellos and a solo bassoon, soon followed by the first entry of the soloist on a long, very quiet held E which develops into a lyrical and increasingly dramatic soliloquy that leads to the main Allegro. There’s a youthful energy about this music—Pfitzner at his most unselfconscious, relishing the challenge of writing for a brilliant virtuoso soloist who brings the movement to a close with a dazzling scale in octaves. The second section is of a less predictable formal design. It opens with the expressive core of the concerto, a long-breathed Adagio molto tranquillo which is dominated by a song-like melody introduced by the soloist and subsequently developed in a rapturous dialogue with the orchestra, especially the woodwind. A brief, exciting Allegro recalling the falling theme from the first movement is followed by a reflective cadenza for the soloist, and a return to the mood of the work’s opening, reaching a serene conclusion in A major. This early work was first performed in public on 18 February 1977, by the cellist Esther Nyffenegger with the orchestra of the Würzburg Musikhochschule conducted by Hermann Dechant, and it was published the following year.
from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2014