A few years ago, I was able to perform as a soloist with an orchestra in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was video taped by a friend, and over the years I had lost the footage. It has literally taken me 2 years to track down this video – as I had lost touch with the orchestra members and the person who video taped it. I finally received the footage last week.
I am excited to share it with you.
Performing with an orchestra is only usually a rare opportunity that an artist gets, unless of course you are Joshua Bell or Hilary Hahn and it is part of “the job” as a touring concert artist. While I have performed in orchestras as a violinist for many years, the following concert footage is the only time I have ever soloed as a pianist. (Someday I hope to do concerts with my own compositions with an orchestra…only a dream right now though).
Just a little bit about this piece. It is Edward MacDowell’s 2nd Piano Concerto. If you aren’t familiar with MacDowell, you may want to youtube “Scotch Poem” as that is one of his more famous solo piano works. His concertos are not as widely known as Rachmaninoff’s, but you can hear that they are of the same time era and style influence.
A concerto typically has 3 movements. The first is usually a fast opening number that introduces the concerto’s theme. The 2nd movement is usually a slower, beautiful interlude. And then the 3rd movement typically is the fire of the piece that wraps everything up and ends with a bang. There is only one concerto that I can think of that does not follow this trend, and that would be Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto – as it starts off with a slow first movement.
Here, I performed the 1st movement – which was about 12 and 1/2 minutes in length. Youtube only allows for 10 minute videos, so I had to edit down some of the spots where the orchestra played by themselves so that I could get the entire video down to 10 minutes.
It took me about 4 months to learn and memorize this piece (the first movement). Surprisingly, it is not the hardest concerto I’ve ever learned. I have also performed Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto (with a 2nd piano as accompaniment), as well as a Liszt Piano Concerto (also performed with another pianist playing the orchestral reduction) - both of which were by far harder than this one.
For this MacDowell concerto, I rehearsed it with the orchestra twice before the concert (once in one of their rehearsals, and then once for a dress rehearsal the day of the concert). So the orchestra did not have a whole lot of opportunity to run the number to perfection with me and I remember feeling like I wanted to push the tempo but couldn’t get the orchestra to keep up with me. As a soloist, it is the orchestra’s responsibility to follow the soloist’s lead, however, it is also the soloist’s responsibility to make sure that he/she is with the orchestra as well on important entrances, etc. It is a delicate balance that is hard to acheive when you only get a few rehearsals together.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the concert footage. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to do it again.