Piano Concerto No. 3

by Anthony Ritchie, for piano and orchestra, Opus 136

A sunny and life affirming work with an emphasis on expression and colour rather than virtuosity.

Programme Note

This concerto is a sunny and life-affirming work. There are moments of reflection however, such as the slow introduction, where a long melody on piano is picked up by the strings in the orchestra. Elements of this melody become the basis for the 'allegro' that follows which features three main ideas. The second of these, on piano with strings playing pizz. and col legno, is hyperactive and unpredictable. By comparison, the third theme that emerges on piano solo is more lyrical, and neo-classical in style. A busy development section builds to a climax and themes appear in reverse order. The fleet-footed coda features canonic entries and the movement comes to a bubbly conclusion.

In the slow movement a modal melody is undercut by dissonances on the piano, suggesting painful memories. The melody is passed over to the flutes, and back to the piano in a quasi-improvised passage. A second theme appears on the violins, lyrical and arching. After development of the theme, the piano has a short solo that brings the music back to the opening. Following an unexpected modulation the main theme is varied by the orchestra, leading to a short, quiet coda.

The finale is a whimsical, neo-classical piece, descriptive of the movements of wind-up toys. Dramatic gestures are really only mock- dramatic, and serious ideas give way to playful fun as ideas are shared quickly between orchestra and piano. The percussion have something to say near the end, suggesting toy soldiers, before the pieces comes to a rapid end.