Piano and Orchestra
Commissioned by the University of Southern California for its 125th Anniversary
First performance: October 6, 2005 - USC Thornton Symphony, Donald Crockett, cond., Norman Krieger, piano, Los Angeles
Capriccio for piano and orchestra, commissioned by the University of Southern California for the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1880, was composed during the period March-August of this year. My Capriccio, which runs about twelve minutes in a single movement, is generally energetic and celebratory in character. The shape and content of the work were very much inspired by tonight’s soloist, my wonderful colleague and friend at the Thornton School, Norman Krieger. I sent him sections of the solo part throughout the process, asking for his comments. It was a great pleasure to hear him read through some of it at the beginning of the summer, which served as more than adequate inspiration (beyond the deadline, of course) to forge ahead with the piece.
The Capriccio begins with a melody in horns alternating with the soloist and interspersed with massive chords in the orchestra. This unfolds for awhile before new, quick material is introduced in the piano, accompanied by a solo string sextet. For the next several minutes – the first half of the piece or so – melody, chords and quick sixteenth-note music alternate and interact. A slower chaconne (repeated chord progression) follows, over which the pianist plays very expressive music in multiple layers. The final section of the piece returns to the fast tempo of the opening and recalls material from the first half, now presented in different layers with a different feel. Throughout the Capriccio, except in the chaconne, the percussionists are quite active laying down various accompanimental grooves. - Donald Crockett