Hyperion Records

Concerto for two pianos and string orchestra in A minor
composer
1971; first performed by Charles H Webb and Wallace Hornibrook in Melbourne in 1972; dedicated to Alice and Arthur Nagle

Recordings
'Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos' (CDA68011/2)
Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos
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Details
Movement 1: Allegro ma non troppo
Movement 2: Lento
Movement 3: Allegro vivo

Concerto for two pianos and string orchestra in A minor
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In the Concerto in A minor for two pianos and string orchestra Williamson employed a series or ‘row’ as a structural device—this time a lengthier one that derives its pitch content from the letters of the names of the two American pianists who premiered the work, Charles H Webb and Wallace Hornibrook. The concerto is in fact dedicated to another duo of American pianists—Alice and Arthur Nagle, who performed the piano duo part in the composer’s In place of belief (with chorus) in Washington in 1971. The concerto was commissioned by the Australia Council and the Astra Chamber Orchestra and was premiered in Melbourne in 1972 by Webb and Hornibrook with the Astra Chamber Orchestra and conductor George Logie-Smith.

The first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, is in 5/4 time and shows the influence of Bartók in its folk-like rhythms and in the texture of its main theme, with its busy string accompaniment and octaves in the piano line. The ‘cipher-row’, as Geoffrey Álvarez terms it in his insightful analytical essay on the work (‘Malcolm’s Dancing Numbers: a study of Malcolm Williamson’s Concerto for two pianos and string orchestra’, 2008; see freespace.virgin.net/geoffrey.alvarez/malcolmsdancingnumbers.pdf), is heard in full in the first entry of Piano I and is subsequently used to form a basis for the entire concerto. It appears in each movement in an intriguing array of forms and, along with a modal ascending and descending scalic theme, creates unity from one movement to the next. In the first movement, the cipher-row is developed into an elaborate canon, while in the central Lento movement, which Williamson described as ‘plainsong-esque’, it is employed in the manner of a cantus firmus. In the final movement, a lively and percussive Allegro vivo, it is heard first in the bass line as an accompaniment to a new theme, then in a contrasting chorale-like passage, before bringing the work to a definitive conclusion when it is condensed into a final accented chord.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA68011/2 disc 1 track 4
Allegro ma non troppo
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-14-01104
Duration
7'07
Recording date
21 July 2012
Recording venue
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Veronika Vincze
Hyperion usage
  1. Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos (CDA68011/2)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: March 2014
    2CDs
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