Piano Concerto premiere at BBC Proms tonight

26 July 2017
Steven-2-25835.png Steven Osborne
Composer Julian Anderson opens the doors of The Imaginary Museum – performed by Steven Osborne (pictured)


Composer Julian Anderson opens the doors of The Imaginary Museum – performed by Steven Osborne (pictured)


Tonight, 26 July, Steven Osborne gives the first performance of a new take on the piano-concerto genre by Julian Anderson (pictured below). A fresh and ear-catching reinvention of traditional forms has always been a mark of Anderson’s music. He was never likely to produce a three-movement, fast-slow-fast piece for this co-commission from BBC Radio 3, the Bergen Philharmonic and the Sydney Symphony.


© John Batten


Instead, the titles of the concerto’s six movements offer tantalising hints of sounds and sensations:  The World is a Window; Janáček’s Wells; Sea; Forest Murmurs; A Song Before Dawn; Mountain. One inspiration for Anderson was a book by André Malraux, also titled The Imaginary Museum, which raises the idea that only in our head can a coherent collection of art be assembled, when masterpieces are scattered across the world in museums and galleries.


Anderson thus aims to bring places and sounds from across the world to the instrument which is an orchestra in itself, the piano: from the concert hall itself, to a whirlpool, to the Australian desert. However, as the composer observes, this is an imaginary museum, not a tour guide: ‘the imagination of the listeners should be completely free when listening to the work.’


For something on a more simpler note than what is to be expected tonight, here's his Grade 2 piece Somewhere near Cluj which Anderson wrote for the ABRSM syllabus in 2013-14: 

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The Scottish pianist Steven Osborne is renowned for his performances of new and British music. His recordings on Hyperion of the concertos by Britten and Tippett have won wide acclaim. Issue 96 of Pianist gave a warm welcome to his latest CD, of concertos by Ravel and de Falla: ‘The Concerto for the Left Hand is done with élan and rhythmic zest, and Osborne flies through the massive challenges of the grand coda.’


You can listen to the premiere on the BBC website for 30 days through the iPlayer. The score can be purchased here from Anderson’s publisher, Schott Music. The next performance of The Imaginary Museum will take place in Bergen on 14 September, when Osborne will be accompanied by the Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner, who conducted the premiere of Anderson’s opera Thebans at English National Opera.


Osborne photos © Benjamin Ealovega




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