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Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor, Op 58
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Concerto No 3 in G minor was published about 1825 and has a of pathos and intense longing, recalling the mood of some of Mozart’s pieces in the same key. It adopts a Clementi–Beethoven principle of deriving many themes from one motive. Here the motive might be called a ‘curling’ one, like the ornament known as a turn: it visits first the note a half-step above the main note, then the one below, returning to the main note in each case. This motive begins the plaintive opening melody, played by violins; after a contrastingly brisk theme is briefly worked out, another version of the first tune is introduced by the cellos, in the key of B flat major, which is to be the complementary key of this movement (unlike No 2, it is already broached in the opening tutti). The orchestra is about to conclude its introduction with a quiet cadence, when the piano bursts in before its time, brusquely snatching the cadence, and following with its own theme in boldly leaping octaves. Then, after a long flourish, it comes round to the lyrical opening tune which it proceeds to invert, and again modulates to B flat for the ‘second theme’, which is merely the major-mode version of the first. A new tune sounding like a Chopin polonaise leads into the beginning of the first big virtuoso section, which after a digression to F sharp major makes its triumphal way to the big trill and cadence. After the orchestra has wound down there is a powerful development section, far more inventive than in many classical concertos, and making much of a five-bar form of the big octave theme first introduced by the piano, against rushing scales. The recapitulation follows a normal course, going to G major to counterbalance the B flat major of the exposition. There is a cadenza in the traditional place, but on an untraditional chord, before the fierce G minor conclusion.

The relatively calm slow movement is in ternary form (ABA), the ‘A’ consisting of two balanced phrases, each begun with solemn brass chords answered by ornate piano melody. The ‘B’ section again anticipates Chopin, with trills in the left-hand accompaniment. The returning ‘A’ section is shortened, and soon leads to piano melody over hushed tremolando strings; the winds and brass cut in with growing fervour, as the mood tightens up to lead into the tense finale, back in G minor and marked ‘Allegro agitato’. The first theme begins with the inverted form of the curling theme, in demanding octaves; the second theme, in B flat, has a more relaxed, cheerful tone. In the recapitulation the main theme is in broken octaves (actually easier to play than the straight octaves of the first statement). There is an unexpected change of tempo to ‘Moderato espressivo’, where the piano once more recalls (or rather anticipates) Chopin, this time in a nocturne-like passage in D major. After the rest of the recapitulation the concerto winds up in a galloping Prestissimo.

from notes by Nicholas Temperley © 2002

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