5 Essential Piano Concertos

For any budding classical music aficionado, there are numerous examples of piano concerti that are worth getting to know and love. That notwithstanding, one has to start somewhere and so here is a suggested list of 5 wonderful examples that anyone with a growing interest should consider having in their collection:-

Liszt Piano Concerto no.1

If pianistic fireworks and orchestral drama are what you seek, then Liszt’s entertaining First Piano Concerto is not a bad place to start.

https://open.spotify.com/album/34P4VsIM4FIEDgaffz8lw9?si=hb2-KzWCQPOMnqxZ39MCVg

The recordings of this work are plentiful and range greatly in quality and performance; a personal favourite of this author is a 1987 recording with Krystian Zimermann at the piano and Seiji Ozawa conducting. The sound quality is not flawless (sadly) owing to occasion patches of distortion, but these are few and far between enough so as to avoid spoiling the recording.

Originally penned in sketch form around 1830, Liszt completed the work in 1849, before making some further revisions in 1853. At the work’s premiere, the composer was at the piano with Hector Berlioz conducting.

A powerful motif opens the concerto – legend has it that in order to mock his critics, Liszt set the rhythm of this motif to the words “Das versteht ihr alle nicht” i.e. none of you understand this!

Before long, the piano enters with matching octaves (0.13) climbing in zig zags up the keyboard. Changing direction slightly into C major (0.24) before addressing the opening motif once again (0.34) low level tension spins out of control into a frantic surge (0.43.)

After that brief and tempestuous episode, stern trumpets restore order (0.50) and more calmly this time, the motif guides us into a gentle section with waterfall like passagework in the right hand.

Liszt cleverly paves the way into a dreamy, nocturne-like mood, where the clarinet (1.59) paints a plaintive melody. The piano assumes the baton and carries the music forward to a new and rather sad sounding theme (2.34.) The clarinet again takes its opportunity to speak, later a solo violin follows suit (3.02.) The music starts to swell until a new, more resolute section commences (3.28) with rapid finger work and the orchestra building along with the soloist.

Suddenly, a new level of tension is reached (3.40) the tension ratcheting up and the pressure becoming more intense. The spell is broken by the return of that opening motif (3.52) breaking down into descending double octaves (4.00.)

The opening material is somewhat recycled in a new key, before an unexpected change of direction (4.49) which pauses on a fantastically dramatic chord (4.54) before the soloist pirouettes into a final recap (5.05.)

The music reaches a dreamlike close and sounds like something out of a fairy-tale as it evaporates into a puff of smoke (5.24.)

The slow movement is opened with an ominous melody carried by the double basses and cellos. Pay close attention – we will hear this motif once again later, as it forms the basis of the final movement.

After the melody has been spelt out, the piano enters at 0.37 with a soft, flowing series of arpeggios in the left hand and a searching tune in the right. The music becomes more passionate and arrives at breaking point (1.42.) After the piano completes its descent, the string section take up the theme, this time more richly harmonised (2.05.)

There is some enjoyable interplay between the piano and orchestra (a feature of the entire concerto.)

Liszt then (softly) introduces a new idea (3.13) which is laid out until the woodwinds appear over a trill (3.44.) The music is again dreamy, saccharine and fantasy-like. The 2nd movement closes at 4.36.

Almost immediately, the rare sound of the triangle heralds the unsettled 3rd movement with plucked strings laying out the groundwork for the jumpy and vague feel of the movement.

Edgy, shivering strings (4.53) seem to spook the ghostly passagework in the piano. A slightly more playful section at 5.02 brings to mind Henry Litolff’s Concerto Symphonique no.4. The interplay continues until Liszt decides to take the music by the scruff of the neck (5.55) driving forward to a short, but tense section. Failing to reach a logical conclusion, the soloist draws everything back into a grumbling, stormy position (6.44.)

From here, those descending octaves return and serve as an entry point to the next big flare up. We find ourselves without warning in an eerie and sinister world (7.22) before long, it inevitably rises up into a loud and angry statement (7.38.) Those zig-zagging octaves try to find a way out of the dirge (7.48) and those woodwinds offer some hope of clarity, but things are clearly moving toward another battle, which arrives at 8.30 and sounds like the Dies Irae.

Liszt has to try many different keys in the lock (8.37) before finding the right one (8.41) – tremendously exciting and showy stuff! The orchestra and soloist engage in an aural jousting match until a deadlock takes us directly into the 4th and final movement.

The theme Liszt uses from the off is that same as that heard at the opening of the 2nd movement, only heavily modified. A new counter theme appears at 0.29, which is objected to immediately by the piano. Another recycled theme can be heard, this time in the piano at 1.00. Some truly fantastic pianism can heard through this final movement, as though Liszt was saving his greatest dexterity for last! At times, it sounds as though you might need more than merely 2 hands to play it (1.53.)

Perhaps recalling his cadenza at the beginning of the first movement, the composer employs a similar mechanism to bridge into a new section (2.18.)

After some captivating passagework, we find ourselves firmly on the home straight at 3.18. A grandstand finish is coming and duly arrives, driven by those forceful double octaves (3.31.) Eb major is loudly and proudly proclaimed, the concerto closing off via an assertive blast of the trumpets backed by rolling timpani.

Beethoven Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto no.5)

Out of all the many recordings of Beethoven’s Emperor concerto, this is in my opinion the very best of the catalogue:-

https://open.spotify.com/album/55O2dZRvACxIRoIH6f2Dx9?si=Vl1PcCviQ0qZ6IDc-GwMzg

The sound is crystal clear and perfectly balanced throughout – muscular when it needs to be, delicate and serene at other moments.

Yundi’s playing is remarkable accurate, well-judged and informed, whilst Daniel Harding’s direction in front of the marvellous Berlin Philharmoniker is masterful.

As a rather unexpected bonus, the recording also contains a full rendition of Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C, an expansive and emotional journey spread over 3 movements.

But, since this is a piece about Piano Concerti, let’s focus on the Beethoven.

Opening with a series of grandiose, weighty chords for full orchestra, the soloist enters with cascading arpeggios on the piano. Ever the trailblazer, even by Beethoven’s lofty standards this was showy virtuosity at a new level which arguably paved the way for the later generation – a mantle that would be taken up by the likes of Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt.

The main opening theme begins at 1.07 in the warm and positive key of Eb Major. The strings recite the melody, before the woodwinds echo in unison. A new and less certain subject enters at 2.04 scored more sparsely, hesitant in its cautious gait. The French Horns add a touch of warmth at 2.20, the strings offering a soft, lilting counter melody. An anxious call from the violins 2.38 beckon the music back to the familiar sanctuary of the opening Eb major melody.

Beethoven stretches out the thematic material, building to a powerful and assertive statement at 3.41 with the backing of the timpani. Softening away in volume briefly before using a new motif (a dotted rhythm followed by the same measure in silence at 4.06) the piano ascends to a gentle trill (4.18) – the home theme spelt out again, this time by the piano in crisp chords. Some decorative passagework leads to a brief re-affirmation of the opening theme at 4.52.

The piano embarks on an unsettled jaunt upwards at 5.27, becoming rather more reflective and introspective at 5.39 – we will hear this same music again later, only in transposed keys. An abrupt change of key and gruff military-like statement chords crash the serenity at 6.13.

Beethoven’s writing for the piano in the concerto was arguably ahead of its’ time – it’s quite likely that he had in mind what he would have wanted his concerto grand to have sounded like, but in reality, the pianos which were available to him when writing this work would have been tested to their very limits.

Employing descending scales in the left hand with decorative passagework in the right at 6.46, the music builds inexorably toward a new conclusion which arrives with gusto in the new key of Bb major at 8.05.

Running along in a newly transposed key, Beethoven brings back a former mechanism at 9.06 to provide a natural juncture toward a dreamy section which commences at 9.22. Gathering strength and gaining in momentum from 10.09, running through progressive key signatures leads to a heated Q&A between piano and orchestra at 10.32. The piano leads the way out of this tense standoff with march-like scales, up and down the keyboard.

A movement of beautiful serenity returns at 11.27 – it sounds like a glimpse of the heavens. Beautiful and dreamlike though this passage is, the drama is never far away and Beethoven employs rather ominous, crepuscular strings scratching away like something out of a dark nightmare (12.16.) These drag us the listener back into a magnificent Eb major crescendo – suddenly in a glorious blaze of orchestral sound, we are back home.

Those towering, majestic arpeggios are back on show in all their splendour. We finally arrive back at the orchestral pronouncement at 13.14. At 14.11, a familiar motif is utilised once again (this time in a transposed key.) We return to that dreamlike, pensive world and take a precious moment to breath before those powerful military-like chords interject at 14.57.

Arriving at a familiar reaffirmation of the Eb major main theme (16.50) Beethoven strengthens the message further by utilising that powerful dotted rhythm once again, this time with the full force of the orchestra (16.58.)

There is a feeling that the movement is advancing toward a natural conclusion, but there is time for one more exploratory foray into themes already past. The piano plays the call and answer game with the orchestra at 19.16 but this time, the fire is beginning to die down (19.34) and the descending piano passagework prompts a final call and answer in the form of dotted rhythms – three satisfying and decisive Eb major chords close the first movement (20.05.)

The sublime slow movement is known the world over, helped generously no doubt by its inclusion in the film A Clockwork Orange. There is something deeply philosophical about this music – it almost sounds akin to the musings of an old soul pondering life and its various complexities.

Beethoven chose the less familiar key of B major here, not an obvious choice given its remote nature from the tonic of Eb major, but it just seems to fit so naturally as to be unquestionable. Effectively a nocturne featuring muted strings, solo piano and wind instruments, it could be viewed as a gentle conversation between a group of close friends.

After the opening theme is established, at 1.15 we hear dark storm clouds laden with uncertainty – the wind instruments seem to counsel them back toward positivity. The piano enters at 1.33 – calm, composed and tranquil. It is the sage voice of reason, optimism – offering hope to the troubled sounding strings. Some of the notes appear borderline dissonant (3.07) or somehow “stretched” as if to suggest that the soloist is having to ‘reach for the sky’ in their efforts to temper the string instruments. Their positivity appears to be working however as the strings (along with the help of the woodwind) become more convinced of salvation (3.31.)

A series of trills in the piano beginning at 3.58 suggests somehow ‘climbing a ladder’ or leading to greater heights of consciousness. Ultimately, the soloist assumes the main theme at 4.28. Adding various embellishments and decorative frills along the way, the strings take back control at 5.12.

The soloist subsequently enters a sequence of passages which are slightly affected by self-doubt. The wind instruments come to the rescue, offering to lead the soloist by the hand at 5.53.

The momentum appears to wane around 6.59 and the accompaniment seems to be thinning out. A gradual slow down ensues – until Beethoven rather cleverly employs a lone bassoon to ‘receive the baton’ from the soloist, holding onto a B, before dropping to a Bb, which rather usefully is the dominant of the tonic key, Eb major.

The end of the movement was written to lead directly into the third and final movement, a rondo in 7 parts.

Safely back into the home key, the soloist tentatively plays fragments of the forthcoming theme, hesitantly at first before launching vigorously into the new theme, which is derived from an old German dance.

The orchestra subsequently present the new theme at 0.22. The returning soloist embarks on a series of dazzling scales 0.58 before setting out a new idea (1.07) which is later sung forth by the orchestra. Theme A returns at 2.11, robust and energetic. Beethoven opts for the same theme in a new key at 3.12 with subtle support from the orchestra; a subtle shift of mood begins at 3.41 with a new treatment (virtuosic variations) of the German dance.

This is a true work out for the concert pianist with little let up throughout this entire final movement (5.17.) Trills set against pensive, gentle string accompaniment (5.28) lead eventually to a further return of the dance theme, the orchestra assuming their position once again at 6.01.

The thematic material is recycled and explored in various guises until a final summation by the soloist at 9.16. Everything once again seems to be dying down, the timpani softly decelerates as the piano makes its final pronouncements, a placid and gentle ending seemingly inevitable.

In the world of Beethoven however, this rarely happens! Suddenly at 9.49 we are plunged headlong into a scurrying cadenza, charging straight toward a vehement and fierce Eb major conclusion.

Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor

Grieg once modestly described his music in the following terms: “Artists like Bach and Beethoven erected churches and temples on ethereal heights…I want to build homes for people in which they can be happy and contented.” His 1868 Piano Concerto in A minor is arguably one of the most well-known and loved of the entire repertoire and for a great composer who hailed from Norway, a country which is not necessarily known for its plethora of towering musical giants, this is a magnificent work which has firmly stood the test of time.

Written during an age when nationalism was emerging as a major force in all art forms, the work is thoroughly Scandinavian in its rhythms and melodies.

For my selected recording of the concerto, who better than Grieg’s fellow countryman, Leif Ove Andsnes in his 2003 recording with Mariss Jansons directing the Berliner Philharmoniker?

https://open.spotify.com/album/6Bw4WtDsuzv1GllggEp208?si=Uvsp8zSwQiifmnexP-jDjA

Whilst you can hear the clear influence of Robert Schumann throughout the piece, the opening roll of the timpani and shatteringly stark A minor chord which grips us from the outset is purely Grieg’s own inspiration.

The orchestra takes the opening theme first (0.29) before the piano recites the same (1.06.)

Arguably, those readers who are familiar with Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto can perhaps also hear some inspiration in the opening material, although that of course has a distinctly Russian flavour.

A new subject based on a Norwegian folk dance, with its own unique skittish rhythm appears at 1.43. A golden new vision is presented at 2.08, leading onto a new melody at 2.27 given to the lush sounding cellos.

The piano takes this theme up before being drawn into a passionate and dizzying struggle against the orchestra (3.22.) The tension is broken with a sobering crescendo that takes us directly into C major (3.51.)

After the energy has dissipated from this strident section of music, a flute sings over arpeggiated piano, sounding akin to outward waves in a small pond (4.23.)

The music becomes stormier and more tempestuous (5.22) but inevitably calmness returns, and we are back at the opening theme once more (5.44.)

The music is effectively repeated before a subtle change of key at 6.33 cleverly moves us onto a different track. We hear that passionate theme once again, rising to another climax at 8.12. This time however, because of the earlier key change, Grieg steers us toward a new question mark (8.29.)

The brass and strings stand firm and pose serious questions. An aural “standoff” results with an angry rumble in the timpani (8.40.)

Grieg then inserted a lengthy cadenza which sounds something like soul searching and internal grappling. Many questions are turned over and over in the pianist’s mind. The original theme returns at 9.55, growing with strength before building into an outraged shriek for answers to those unanswered questions (10.17.)

That theme is laid out once again with an iron fist in full double-handed chords. Moving toward a kind of acceptance, the piano hands back over to the orchestra at 11.53. The music is ominous, uncertain.

Another sprightly, bouncing folk dance propels the music back toward a conclusion at 12.11. This sticks grimly in A minor – the piano takes us back with a crash to the very opening chords, turning them into a closing argument, bouncing up and down the keyboard and reaching a solemn summary to close this first movement.

Grieg’s slow movement has to be one of the most achingly beautiful, yearning pieces of music in the world.

The mood is melancholy, almost like a lament. It’s difficult not to become swept up in this world. As Oscar Wilde said of Chopin’s music “After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own. Music always seems to me to produce that effect. It creates for one a past of which one has been ignorant, and fills one with a sense of sorrows that have been hidden from one’s tears.”

The same sentiment certainly applies here. After Grieg has established his opening material, the piano enters at 2.08. The strings are muted and remarkably sensitive, whereas the piano controls the overall sweep and pulsating nature of the writing.

We swell toward a grand restatement of the main theme at 3.50. All facets are explored with exquisite delicacy; the movement closes with a private and compassionate conversation between solo horn and piano.

In the 3rd and final movement, we get to hear the full range of colour and movement of Norwegian folk dance. There is a wonderful, pulsating energy to this music which Grieg interwove with consummate skill into a modern symphony orchestra.

A minor (1.36) stays stubbornly in place for the most part, but this changes later when the music reaches its natural conclusion. In this recording, Andsnes plays with sparkling dexterity but never loses the human touch or emotion which Grieg so clearly injected into what become his flagship work.

The tune which will ultimately close the work is heard for the first time at 2.41 in F major. It is fantasy-like and sounds like something from the world of trolls, elves and pixies (as does some of Grieg’s other music.)

Contemplative passage work from the soloist takes us to a further expression of the theme at 3.54.

Once this lovely section has reached a silky-smooth conclusion, the pulse of the Norwegian folk dance pulls us back into its unstoppable march (5.25.)

Grieg adroitly utilises material heard earlier in the movement. At 6.57 a new level of tension is reached and there is a growing sense of another “standoff.” This duly arrives and the soloist (7.34) is left to pave the way for a final fanfare.

Rather than go in with all guns blazing, Grieg chooses a rather crafty route (8.04) and another opportunity to use a folk-dance native to his homeland! The music moves along at a fair clip toward a swirling whirlpool that carries us into Grieg’s promised land – a resplendent statement of his earlier melody, this time in the triumphant key of A major.

The piano clears the way for the orchestra to have their final say and a plagal cadence brings the curtains down on one of the finest piano concertos of them all.

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2

Written during the composer’s recovery from a deep depression resulting from the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony – it is alleged that Glazunov – the conductor – was drunk on the podium – this is one of the most enduringly popular piano concertos in the entire repertoire. The work is dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, the hypnotherapist who Rachmaninov credited with restoring his self confidence and well-being. Composed in 1900, the famous opening chords which grow ever louder and more pressing, were likely inspired by the bells of the Russian orthodox church which the composer would have frequently heard throughout his childhood.

My selected recording for this work is a 1985 performance featuring Vladimir Ashkenazy as soloist with Bernard Haitink leading the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

https://open.spotify.com/album/72s0jN9Z19M0PfztDNoYdh?si=yP4PObbVRueoLvtH__FOlw

The stage firmly set in C minor (0.28) a cascading, flowing piano accompaniment shifts underneath a solemn and melancholy which is performed by lush strings. The music is tender and romantic – unsurprising then that this is a firm favourite at classical music concerts on Valentine’s Day!

A 2nd theme follows in E major (2.38) which is the relative major to the key of C minor. The music changes direction and becomes somewhat agitated, culminating in a climactic restatement of the opening C minor theme (7.04.)

At 9.38, a new oasis of calm descends and Rachmaninov experiments with a move directly into C major (10.15) and starts shifting the proverbial furniture around. Before long, we discover that we are locked into a countdown to another C minor crescendo which ultimately closes the movement with a bang after much nervous prevarication at 11.30.

Much revered as one of the most popular of all slow movements, the 2nd movement opens with a tender and romantic statement, from the outset in C minor. When the stage is paved for the entry of the soloist, Rachmaninov has guided us imperceptibly into E major (0.30.)

It’s an incredibly gentle and empyrean section which the flute later joins (0.49) as if looking skyward for answers. The clarinet soon takes over (1.04) and develops the theme into a lengthy discourse. It can be no surprise that this movement is such a popular Valentine’s Day concert showpiece!

Rachmaninov continues to elaborate on this beautiful theme (2.59) with ever greater counter melodies to add weight around it.

A drop into the minor key at 4.00 sees the music enter into a section B. This new idea is first propounded by the piano (4.54) before a 2nd delivery is met with a greater climax and counter melody in the string section (6.21.)

A mini crescendo led by the piano tying up loose ends arrives at 6.55; a wandering section follows, dying out quickly in an unexpected blast (7.33.) Rachmaninov here inserts one of his traditional cadenzas that leads to a recapitulation of the main theme in E major 8.37.

From here, we hear once again the beautiful theme recited in all its shimmering glory. As we reach the end of this movement, just the soloist remains and closes the movement with true delicacy (11.08.)

The music which opens the 3rd movement is somewhat military-esque and leads to a thumping great G major chord – a signal for the soloist to enter with a remarkably fast whisk up and down the keyboard before setting the scene in C minor.

It’s serious in tone, but playful and there are plenty of virtuosic fireworks to enjoy throughout.

We arrive at the preface to another of the great themes of this concerto (1.36.) The first time we hear this melody, it’s in Bb major and is beautifully put together (2.17.) The conclusion of this music leads to a suspenseful section which carries the music through a searching phase.

At 3.48, this comes to a shattering halt with an aggressive, charging and newly energised portion of music. At certain junctures, it sounds like a stand-off between an assembled army and a wall of protestors.

This combative music lasts until Rachmaninov decides to insert a fork in the road – we find ourselves back at the newly modulated theme (Db major) of earlier (5.48.)

After that theme is recited once more, the music takes on the former improvisational quality once again, gaining in momentum and power (8.38.)

The cellos sing their hearts out at 8.54, imploring all to march forward with the cause. The piano seizes the initiative (9.13.) A huge orchestral crescendo arrives at 9.31 and the soloist as at the opening of this movement, unleashes a mini cadenza that takes us neatly back into the chest beating pride of C major.

Puffing out the Russian chest, we have arrived at the glorious final statement and this is surely the best sounding key to deliver this proud and rousing melody.

The pianist scampers off (10.47) to gather up the orchestral players for one final blast which they deliver with that now famous 4 note closing motif (11.09.)

Rachmaninov’s depression surely cured; we owed a debt of gratitude to Dr Nikolai Dahl.

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no.1

Originally composed between 1874-75, before two further revisions in 1879 and 1888, Tchaikovsky’s wonderful First Piano Concerto stands as one of the most beloved of them all.

I have chosen here one of the cleanest, technically perfect and emotionally balanced recordings available; Natasha Paremski as the soloist with the Fabien Gabel directing the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

https://open.spotify.com/album/2KR5TWndBadF214zOiJ4ZW?si=qGCtfdgwTuiB9L0pz5xP5Q

One of the most gifted of all melodists, Tchaikovsky has touched many hearts with the memorable opening theme given by the strings above large, stepped Db major chords in the piano (0.23.)

The theme is repeated 3 times, before being taken on by the piano (1.03) with added flourishes of decoration here and there.

The introduction ends in a rather subdued manner before an obscure Ukrainian folk theme melody can be heard (apparently Tchaikovsky obtained his inspiration from a performance by blind beggar musicians at a market in Kamenka near Kiev.)

A call and answer section follows at both low and high registers between piano and orchestra. A new and typically melancholy section presents itself at 6.00 before developing into a more expansive theme. Muted strings at 6.53 suggest something more hopeful; the music continues to increase in passionate exploration building to new heights at (7.54.)

The orchestra step in at 8.17 and continue to flog the soloist, urging them further into their corner. The consoling theme in Ab major appears once more at 8.56. This reaches a conclusion and signals the end of the exposition section.

As we move into the development section, Tchaikovsky almost borrows elements of preceding material and uses them as a building blocks, moving the music forward to tutti statements (10.32.)

The piano writing becomes ever more searching and introspective; a sharp change in direction appears at 12.01, soft strings heralded by a timpani tremolo. Another climax is reached as Tchaikovsky struggles with his inner demons (13.16) before we hear once again a remnant from earlier on (13.27.)

At 13.57 there is a further re-appearance of an old theme and yet, the music retains its questing, unsure nature. Gb major chords are fought over at 15.57 but there is no clear winner.

The soloist continues to probe and the search for clarity continues as the composer skilfully cycles through existing material to create new colours and fresh perspectives. This all comes inevitably to a conclusion that restores the tonality of Bb major, triumphantly closing on a plagal cadence.

Following a brief pizzicato (plucked strings) introduction, the slow movement opens in 6/8 time and in the key of Db major. A solo flute (0.13) is given the opening theme – chosen no doubt for its air-like, floating quality. The piano enters at 0.39 with gentle accompaniment and lays out what is a beautiful and soft melody, the bassoon offering a lilting countermelody.

A new idea is introduced and explored from 1.03, starting with flutes in unison conversing with the piano, until the opening theme returns in the cello at 2.03.

This tender theme appears against various backdrops until the soloist decides to stretch his legs at 3.00 with some playful virtuosity. This leads to a rapid waltz at 3.19. Upon first reading, the piano writing was considered by some to be very complex – perhaps this judgement was made by observing the writing in the middle of this slow movement.

After more introspective passages, we arrive back in the soft, marshmallow-like world of the opening section (4.49.) Tchaikovsky brings this sweet music to a close, akin to a lullaby rocking a baby to sleep.

Infused with a military style meter, the 3rd and final movement is back in the home key Bb minor. It serious and purposeful music that switches dialogue back and forth between the soloist and the orchestra until a more extensive pronouncement by the orchestra at 0.42.

The baton passes back at 0.52 to the soloist with some woodwind decoration above the scampering notes. At 1.07, we hear a new and important melody which will form the basis of the closing statement. This melody passes to the piano and is further extended and explored (1.24.)

Playful, whirling scales take us directly back to the opening military meter (1.50.)

We get the chance to dive off the rollercoaster and onto a new diversion (2.09) which makes further use of the call & answer technique. Another bold statement with renewed confidence broadcasts forth at 2.32.

Newly transposed, we hear once again that important melody; the rapid descend back into that military section carries with it extra burden and worry, illustrated by the nagging flutes (3.33.)

Having recycled the opening material, the music starts to shift inexorably toward a grandiose finish with sounds and musical language that is emblematic of Tchaikovsky (4.45.)

The soloist paves the way with thundering octaves (5.20) and that magnificent melody bursts forth in all its splendour (5.37.) The song sung, loose ends are hurriedly tied up (6.11.)

We are now unmistakeably in the major of the home key – Bb major. One final blast of bravado from our sparkling soloist (6.31) culminating in a chromatic charge up the keyboard (6.38) brings this brilliant Piano Concerto to a thumping close. Bravo Pyotr Ilyich!