Year: 1990

Heading: for piano and orchestra

First Performance:
6 January 1991
Carnegie Hall, New York, New York
Michael Torke, piano / American Composers Orchestra / David Zinman


Duration: 23'

...the overriding style is soaring lyrical melodies, broad fanfares and piano writing that tries to summon the dramatic power of Brahms but occasionally sounds like rock pianist Leon Russell. David Patrick Stearns, USA Today

Program Note:
"The young people have had it with experimentation. They want to believe in something." This was a comment made to me by a colleague, David Foster Wallace, author of Girl with Curious Hair, that made me start to think, yes it is true: when you board a transatlantic flight you don't want the pilot to experiment with his flying skills- you want him to get you there. It occurred to me that there are musical devices that are less disposable than others, ways of combining notes that get better musical "gas mileage," certain languages that get you there without the stink of the composer's ego that believes he has created some new form. With my belief that you can't will originality (the only one I know who is original is God) I intend to explore ideas of classical voice leading, classical rhythms, and classical functional harmonies in the piano concerto as I began to do in my most recent piece, Mass.

These thoughts were further reinforced when I attended the world chess championships between Kasparov and Karpov. Each move was filled with decades of tradition, but that tradition did not seem to stop them from playing stunning chess, of unexpected turns, and even speculative chess. That was a convincing enough example for me that it might be possible to breathe some new energy into B-flat.