World Premiere: Graham Fitkin's Circuit for Two Pianos

Kathryn Stott & Noriko Ogawa (pianos), Jason Lai (conductor), BBC Philharmonic orchestra, 21 March 2003, The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK

Fitkin describes Circuit as having 'an overall grid', and the piece certainly falls into blocks of very different styles, from the heavy repeated chords of the opening, through rapid percussive passages, to quiet, reflective passages in an impressionist style. The orchestration is also very varied, from melodic strings counterpointing the percussive piano lines, to brass fanfares with a decided jazz influence. And then, somehow, the patchwork all melded into one and all the styles converged into a single, melodic finale, which was both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.

Both pianists rose to the challenge of this incredibly technical music with terrific verve. In particular, it was great to see Kathryn Stott -- who I know for her romantic and sensitive Beethoven and Mozart interpretations -- counting away furiously! Stott and Ogawa were too short to see over the scores they were playing from, and so after the start, they couldn't see each other at all.

It was also great to see a concert hall 80% full for a programme including new music -- which certainly wouldn't happen in London! Fitkin received a tremendous ovation, limping on stage with some difficulty (he appeared to have a leg injury).

The rest of the programme, two-piano concertos by Mozart, Bruch & Poulenc, each with different pairs of pianists, rounded off a tremendous evening. The programme seemed to have been chosen to give a quick romp through the history of music for orchestra and (two) piano(s). This concert was part of the Manchester Piano Festival, directed by Kathryn Stott. Circuit lasts approximately 20 minutes.

Tavia ( )
28 March 2003


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Last updated 28 March 2003