Movement 1: Allegro non troppo
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegro non assai
The first movement has three contrasting themes which are elaborated and combined in the development section. Formations of sequences create long arching lines, giving the music a monumental and heroic effect. The relationship of the main theme to the Gibichung-theme in the first scene of the first act in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung has not escaped some observant listeners. There are also associations with works by Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein, although these are likely to be the sharing of a common musical inheritance rather than deliberate reminiscences. Even the ‘Grieg leitmotif’ plays a role in the concerto. Ultimately, however, it is the impression of a well-integrated structure combining power and freshness that fully engages the listener.
In the second movement Andante, in E minor, a solo horn presents a minor-key version of the opening theme from the first movement and gives the whole movement a dreamy and meditative character. The sound of the horn, the minor tonality and the ‘Grieg leitmotif’ are among the reasons why contemporary German critics perceived in this movement the light and ‘Nordic’ sound characteristic of some of Sinding’s music. Gradually the music in the second movement is developed and reaches a new heroic stature. It is interesting to note at certain points how close Sinding’s music comes to Debussy, with his use of parallel triads, and to Sibelius, through a dark and densely coloured harmony and instrumentation. The two first movements of the concerto were premiered by Erika Nissen in 1889 in Oslo, as a contribution to Sinding’s application for a state grant.
Sinding struggled to finish the last movement, and before publishing the Concerto in 1890 he made extensive reworkings. In 1901 Sinding issued another version of the Concerto, with significant alterations to the last movement, affecting the harmony and structure. Elsewhere he also revised much of the piano-writing, without changing the orchestral parts or the underlying harmony and structure, in an attempt to clarify some of the more complex piano figurations and simplify the most intractable passagework. This recording follows the revised edition of 1901, but where it could be argued that Sinding’s desire to streamline the solo part resulted in the loss of worthwhile pianistic intricacies, Piers Lane has retained some elements of the piano-writing from the original 1890 version.
from notes by Harald Herresthal © 2007