Capriccio II


Two Pianos
First performance: Hocket (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff), September 15, 2016, Los Angeles

Program notes: 

In 2006 I was commissioned to write a short piano concerto by the University of Southern California for its 125th anniversary.  The result was Capriccio for piano and orchestra, with USC Thornton faculty pianist Norman Krieger as soloist, and myself conducting the Thornton Symphony in a gala concert in Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus.  Over the following decade I had been thinking from time to time about making a version of this Capriccio involving only the piano; then projects would come up and I’d put it on the back burner once again.  In 2015, though, the perfect opportunity arose as my dear friends and former students, composer/pianists Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff, began taking off as a new music piano duo, Hocket.  This piece, Capriccio II, is my gift to them, a champagne bottle broken on the stern of their newly launched cruise get the picture.  Capriccio II is a response to, a rethinking of, the original Capriccio, now for two pianos instead of piano and orchestra.  Melodic material originally presented in orchestral winds now covers the vast expanse of the piano keyboard, hocketing between the two pianos is more overt than the call and response between the piano soloist and orchestra, rhythms are more complex and harmonies more crunchy, concerto-style virtuosity is required of both pianists, and the whole piece is compressed into about nine minutes from the original thirteen.  Various things happen in Capriccio II, often at a fairly dizzying pace.  The overall mood is one of joyous abandon, with fast, rather athletic music surrounding a central chaconne of lyric intensity.  Capriccio II was completed in March, 2016, with premiere performances by Hocket in Fall 2016.

- Donald Crockett