Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto No 4 in D major
1993/4; dedicated to Marguerite Wolff

'Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos' (CDA68011/2)
Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos
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Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante piacevole
Movement 3: Allegro vivo con fuoco

Piano Concerto No 4 in D major
Williamson commenced work on the Piano Concerto No 4 in D major in 1993—more than thirty years after finishing his third solo piano concerto—and it was completed in the following year. The first three solo piano concertos follow a pattern of tonalities separated by descending minor thirds: A, F sharp and E flat (enharmonically D sharp). Had the composer stuck to this pattern for the fourth concerto, it would have been in C (whether major or minor); however, in the event, Williamson cast his Piano Concerto No 4 in D major as a tribute to Dolly Wingate, who died in the late 1980s. Dolly was the sister of the renowned pianist Marguerite Wolff, for whom the concerto was written and to whom it is dedicated. Marguerite died in 2011 without having performed the work.

The first movement, Allegro, is highly rhythmic and again reminiscent of Stravinsky in its percussive chords and dissonant sound world, with accents commonly occurring on unexpected beats in the bar. Such passages are offset by contrasting phrases of unrestrained lyricism. The interval of a fourth, a favourite of Williamson (and particularly appropriate given the concerto’s number), dominates this and the remaining two movements. The central Andante piacevole is notable for its attractive main theme, which is introduced in a brief germinal fragment played by the woodwinds, brass and percussion before it is taken up by the piano and given a full statement—complete with embellishments—to an accompaniment of triplet quavers. The movement gradually increases in intensity, before drawing to a serene close, and is followed by a brief finale, Allegro vivo con fuoco, which returns to the high energy and chromaticism of the opening movement.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

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