Accompanied by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Argentine pianist Martha Argerich performs Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, a romantic concerto completed in 1845. Conductor: Antonio Pappano. Recorded live in Rome on November 19, 2012.
The work premiered in Leipzig on January 1, 1846 with one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, Clara Schumann (13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896), the composers’ wife, playing the solo part. The orchestra was conducted by the work’s dedicatee, Ferdinand Hiller (24 October 1811 – 11 May 1885), the German composer, conductor, writer and music-director.
The concerto is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings, and solo piano.
There are three movements (there is no break between these last two movements – attacca subito).
- Allegro affettuoso (A minor) The piece starts with an energetic strike by strings and timpani, followed by a fierce, descending attack by the piano. The first theme is introduced by the oboe along with wind instruments. The theme is then given to the soloist. Schumann provides great variety with this theme. He first offers it in the A minor key of the piece, then we hear it again in major, and we can also hear small snatches of the tune in a very slow, A flat section. The clarinet is often used against the piano in this movement. Toward the end of the movement, the piano plays a cadenza before the orchestra joins in with one more melody and builds for the exciting finish.
- Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso (F major) The piano and strings open up the piece with a small, delicate tune, which is heard throughout the movement before the cellos and later the other strings finally take the main theme, with the piano mainly used as accompaniment. The movement closes with small glimpses of the first movement’s theme before moving straight into the third movement.
- Allegro vivace (A major) The movement opens with a huge run up the strings while the piano takes the main, A major theme. Schumann shows great color and variety in this movement. The tune is regal, and the strings are noble. Though it is in 3/4 timing, Schumann manipulates it so that the time signature is often ambiguous. (See hemiola.)The piece finishes with a restating of the previous material before finally launching into an exciting finale, and ending with a long timpani roll and a huge chord from the orchestra.
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
The Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia) is an Italian symphony orchestra based in Rome. Resident at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the orchestra primarily performs its Rome concerts in the Auditorium’s Salla Santa Cecilia.
The orchestra was founded in 1908, as the first Italian orchestra to devote itself exclusively to symphonic repertoire. Bernardino Molinari was the orchestra’s first music director, serving from 1912 to 1944. Subsequent music directors included Franco Ferrara (1944–1945), Fernando Previtali (1953–1973), and Igor Markevitch (1973–1975). The orchestra was noted for its recordings of Italian opera for the Decca label with such conductors as Tullio Serafin. Thomas Schippers had been named the next music director to succeed Markevitch, but Schippers died in December 1977, before he could formally assume the post. The music directorship of the orchestra remained vacant until 1983, with the advent of Giuseppe Sinopoli as music director. Sinopoli assisted in restoring the fortunes of the orchestra, and expanded the orchestra’s repertoire to include Mahler and Bruckner. Leonard Bernstein was the honorary president of the orchestra from 1983 until 1990.
Antonio Pappano became the orchestra’s music director in 2005. With Pappano, the orchestra has recorded commercially for EMI. Currently, Yuri Temirkanov has the title of honorary conductor of the orchestra.