The B flat minor Concerto, though in the expected three movements, forsakes the quick–slow–quick format by dispensing with a separate slow movement. The Adagio is incorporated into the stormy first movement, providing one of many memorable themes in the work, this one allotted to the violas, clarinet and then horns. The second movement is an extended scherzo–rondo demanding a quicksilver touch from the soloist and offering a dizzying, brilliant contrast to the dominant dramatic character of the work. This mood returns in the opening bars of the final Allegro non tanto, a movement which throws down a succession of technically daunting challenges to the pianist. Yet Scharwenka soon introduces a ravishing second subject, not unrelated to the first movement’s Adagio theme, one which, after an imposing cadenza, heralds the ecstatic, lengthy coda and the Concerto’s climactic final pages.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2005