The Piano Concerto in B major is in three movements. The first movement is on a very large scale and could stand by itself (in the manner of the Grieg or Tchaikovsky’s First—Huss dedicated his Concerto to Adele aus der Ohe, a noted interpreter of Tchaikovsky’s B flat minor work). The piano writing in this movement is highly derivative. In addition to the two forementioned, one hears snatches of Brahms, Liszt, and even Godowsky in the cadenza. There is a shameless, possibly tongue-in-cheek, crib at the recapitulation from a similar spot in Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’. The slow movement is more original, if less memorable, and is in the enharmonically altered mediant of E flat major. B and E flat are used throughout the work as pivotal keys (Huss knew his Beethoven); Huss employs the device that Rachmaninov was to use later in his Second Piano Concerto, connecting the movements by modulatory passages from tonic to mediant and back again. The Finale is a showy scherzo-valse with a number of more gentle diversionary episodes. The available orchestral score breaks off at one point during an accompanied cadenza, so I was obliged to orchestrate a short section, following very closely Huss’s instructions in the two-piano score. The first movement’s powerful main theme reappears at the climax of the third, and heralds a wild dash to the conclusion.
Gillespie’s Bibliography of American Piano Music describes the piece as an ‘extremely difficult, lushly romantic composition’. It is certainly conservative in many ways and lifts itself above the ordinary by the virtuosity of its figuration rather than the momentousness of its material.
from notes by Ian Hobson © 1997