Other Version: 2nd movt., Fantasia for Piano Trio (2007)
Date: 2006, revised 2010
- Introduzione – 6:30
- Fantasia – 10:00
- Rondo – 8:10
My starting point for composing the Sinfonia Concertante was to acknowledge the anniversary of the births of two great composers, Mozart and Shostakovitch, in 2006. I decided I would play with the differences between the elegant and refined music of the 18th century Mozart and the more emotional and intense music of the 20th century Shostakovitch. As I developed my composition, I decided not to quote or imitate the music of Mozart and Shostakovitch but to emphasize the idea of contrast. Using melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, textual and instrumental as well as emotional and stylistic differences, I would explore this idea of contrast.
The first movement, Introduzione, has a strong Latin American element (especially from Argentina) with aggressive rhythms. The movement starts with an orchestral introduction featuring the compound rhythm of a 3/4 bar followed by a 5/8 bar building into a dramatic solo cadenza for the three soloists. The contrasting second section is in a playful and simpler 6/8 time while the more intense third section includes elements of the Spanish fandango.
The second movement, Fantasia, starts with the pianist plucking and strumming inside the piano creating a mysterious and atmospheric mood which is then continued by the orchestra. The following neo-romantic section features the solo cello and violin in an expressive melodic passage while the piano plays a more ornamental and supporting role. The music progresses to a playful scherzo section based on an Icelandic rhythm. When I started working on the Sinfonia Concertante last spring (2006), I heard a lecture by the Icelandic composer, Tryggvi Baldvinsson and discovered that Icelandic folk melody commonly uses the complex rhythmic pattern of 4 plus 3 plus 4 plus 2. I was intrigued and went home and composed the melody which ended up in the Fantasia. The movement ends with an atmospheric and dramatic cadenza for the three soloists ending with the solo cello imitating a seagull call.
The third movement, Rondo, begins with music influenced by 20th century French styles (including Ravel), and features both graceful and virtuosic playing from the soloists. The contrasting middle section starts with a mysterious mood with Latin American elements building towards a dramatic piano climax with cascades of notes showing a jazzy influence. The Rondo ends as it began, gracefully.
Sinfonia Concertante for Piano Trio and Orchestra was commissioned by the Gryphon Trio and Orchestras Mississauga, supported by a Canada Council for the Arts Composer Residency Grant. The first performance was on November 25, 2006, at the Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, with the Gryphon Trio, the Mississauga Symphony, and conductor John Barnum.