Listening to the opening movement of the Brahms 1st piano concerto I am reminded of the great number of splendid solo passages that can be found in concertos of this kind.
Such passages may be the opening of the piece, a second theme, or a cadenza. They may be melodic, tempestuous, episodic, or virtuosic. And they often turn out to be addictive as they get stuck for days in our brain.
It would be wonderful if thoughtful and versatile pianists, like Hélène Grimaud or Igor Levit, put together recitals consisting solely of such enchanting passages, taking the audience on a tour of the piano concerto repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Beach, Rachmaninoff, Bartók, Prokofiev, Tailleferre, Gershwin, and Glanville-Hicks to Adams and Daugherty.
The point of such a recital would be not to survey styles and techniques but to isolate and enjoy memorable solo parts that can claim some musical autonomy when taken out of the intense dialectic of the concerto. It would work like a recitation of stand-alone excerpts from major novels to see how they function when taken out of context – and memorized.
15 June 2021