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Piano Concerto No 7 in B minor, Op 207
The Piano Concerto No 7 in B minor Op 207 (1864) is, by comparison with the First Concerto, of almost Conzertstück length and considerably less difficulty from the soloist’s point of view. It is a highly attractive work of its kind, clearly influenced (and none the worse for it) by Chopin, written in the musical language of thirty years earlier. After the sweet themes of the first movement (Allegro moderato) and its unusually subdued ending (in the relative major) comes the Romance in the key of B flat. The first section, in common time, is marked Larghetto senza tempo. These nine bars serve as an introduction to the movement’s main theme in 6/8 (Andantino cantabile) and its passages of delicately executed Chopinesque filigree. Rondo espagnol is the alluring ascription for the finale, though its first theme is more akin to a Polish mazurka. A brief subsidiary idea in thirds, a repeat of the mazurka theme and a con forza end to the episode precede the orchestral exposition of the Hispanic element (playful woodwinds over a chattering bassoon, with triangle). Chopin and Spain battle it out in the most delightful manner to the end, culminating in the Spanish theme being taken up by the soloist (giojoso in B major) and a coda in unison octaves not far removed from that of Chopin’s E minor Concerto.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2004

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