Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor
composer
1960; for piano and string orchestra; dedicated to Elaine Goldberg

Recordings
'Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos' (CDA68011/2)
Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos
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Details
Movement 1: Allegro con brio
Movement 2: Andante lento
Movement 3: Allegro con spirito

Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor
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Williamson composed the Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor over a period of just eight days in late 1960 for a competition requiring a concerto for piano and string orchestra sponsored by the Department of Music and the Choral Society of the University of Western Australia. To his delight, it won a prize and in May 1962 it was premiered by Michael Brimer and the University of Western Australia String Orchestra conducted by Frank Callaway. At this time Williamson’s career as a pianist was at its height, and he subsequently performed the work himself in venues across the world. He described the concerto as ‘an overtly Australian work aiming at spontaneity and vigour rather than profundity’, and in his preface to the revised score he conceded: ‘For me this concerto is a serious parody, a necessary reaction at the time of my First Symphony, my Sinfonia concertante and other works of a more serious interior nature. I mean no parody of any classic, of mediæval music or even a parody of the parodists; it is a parody of myself.’

Although fundamentally a monothematic work, this concerto incorporates a range of musical styles, or ‘densities’, that can be seen as broadly representative of Williamson’s eclectic musical language. His encounters with the music of George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers, for example, are evident in the exuberant outer movements (marked Allegro con brio and Allegro con spirito, respectively) with their lively, syncopated rhythms and catchy melodies. Simultaneously, the crisp, transparent textures and rhythmic inflections in these movements reflect the influence of Stravinsky and Bartók. In fact, one of the themes in the final movement quotes the finale of Stravinsky’s Firebird directly, a particularly apt borrowing given that the concerto was composed exactly fifty years after the ballet was written and premiered. In contrast, the central Andante lento movement is more introspective and reflective; it opens with a solemn canon for the strings before ushering in a poignant chant-like theme, which was perhaps inspired by the Jewish heritage of the work’s dedicatee, Elaine Goldberg, a talented pianist and the cousin of Williamson’s wife, Dolly.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA68011/2 disc 1 track 7
Allegro con brio
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-14-01107
Duration
4'23
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 7
    Release date: March 2014
    2CDs
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