On Saturday, March 9th, you will join the University Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the biennial Concerto Competition, performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor. (Details) How long have you been working on this piece? What about this concerto makes it particularly enjoyable to perform?
I’ve been working on this concerto for over a year and a half now, although I’ve taken several pauses to focus on other repertoire. It is one of my favorite pieces to listen to. It has an incredible breadth in terms of its individual themes and gestures, its emotional range, the far-reaching relationships between movements, and the sheer overall length. Moreover, you can actually feel this breadth in your hand as you play the piece, because the piano part is full of bulky chords, octaves, and arpeggios that stretch the hand. All of this gives the sense of a young composer stretching himself and the boundaries of his art. It feels right to be playing this concerto at the same age that Brahms was when he was working on the piece. I’m pushing my pianistic abilities in the same way that he was pushing himself compositionally when he wrote the concerto, although it’s safe to say that he had the harder job. Continue reading