Concerto for piano and orchestra
The transparency and euphony of sound characteristic of Lutosławski’s later works were intertwined in the Concerto with references to the musical past. As in no other of his works, a key role is played by allusions to the style of other composers: Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Ravel. Despite the presence of borrowings, the work is by no means a collage or postmodernist game. This game of allusions follows rules that Lutosławski developed in the course of his own evolution.
The Concerto consists of four movements. Witold Maliszewski, Lutosławski’s teacher and an expert on musical forms, would have characterized them as “introductory”, “transitory”, “responding” and “concluding”.
The first movement comprises several episodes played by the piano against discreet accompaniment and separated by more robust entries of the orchestra. Musical ideas are introduced rather “casually”. The second, more motoric movement is – as the composer aptly described it – “a race of the solo instrument against a background provided by the orchestra”. The movement abounds in dazzling piano figures, irresistibly bringing to mind Chopin’s style.
Allusions to Beethoven appear in the
third, main movement of the Concerto. The very expressive monologue of
the piano, which begins and ends it, is similar to the famous Arioso dolente
from Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat major op. 110, while the dramatic
dialogue between soloist and orchestra brings to mind associations with the Adagio
from the Concerto in G major, with a performance of which Lutosławski had
completed his piano studies. In the finale the main theme, given at the
beginning by double basses, appears many times, always in the orchestral part,
with its successive repetitions overlapping with episodes played by the piano.
They begin and end in different points than the recurrences of the theme –
overlapping each other in accordance with the “chain principle” present in
Lutosławski’s later works.