Concertino for Piano and Strings

by Anthony Ritchie, Opus 8

An early work, exhibiting the influence of Shostakovich and Bartok. Approachable for both players and audience.

The score for this work can be purchased from Wai-te-ata Music Press

Programme Note

Concertino for Piano and Strings was written in 1982 for The Schola Musica and the brilliant young pianist Sharon Joy Vogan.

The idea for the Concertino came from Ashley Heenan, the conductor of The Schola Musica at that time. It is a young man's work: the composer was a student at the Canterbury University when he wrote it, and the music strives for tightness in construction. The three movements use conventional ternary and rondo forms and aim for an economy of means while preserving a sense of passionate intensity.

After a brusque opening, the violins play a long, arching melody that generates the material for the first movement. The music develops to a complex climax before the opening reappears, turned upsidedown. In the second movement, a slow and melancholy waltz is decorated by the piano in a Chopinesque manner. This idea was originally composed to accompany a poetry reading. In the middle section the music intensifies in a way that is reminiscent of the slow movements of Shostakovich. The finale is a rather muscular rondo with a short piano cadenza that leads into the coda. The main theme grows in strength until its final appearance in octaves on the piano where it assumes a slightly manic character.

The Concertino for Piano and Strings has been performed extensively in New Zealand and was chosen to be workshopped and performed at The Sydney Summer School in 1983. It was recorded for Kiwi/Pacifc in 1984.