Benjamin Britten: Piano ConcertoListen

British Bravura

This concert was played:

  1. Piano Concerto
  2. Symphony No. 1
  1. Thomas Søndergård conductor
  2. Leif Ove Andsnes piano

​​Leif Ove Andsnes presents a true bravura piece with Britten’s zesty and virtuosic piano concerto.

The music ploughs and marches like Shostakovich, but also boasts a British subtlety, melodic sensitivity and a rare lyrical warmth. The same can be said of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 — an important but somehow underestimated British symphony. The work circles around a noble theme which both introduces and concludes the symphony, and which lends it a particular, formal air. 

Edward Elgar (1857-1934) waited a long time to compose a symphony, but when Symphony No. 1 (1908) was finally presented, it was celebrated as the first great British symphony. After the dignified theme in the opening, the rest of the first movement is more active and intense. The second movement follows the same lines, which is a kind of scherzo in form and expression. The third movement contains a stoic calm and has meditative qualities. The finale is again more restless, but again returns to the nobilmente theme of the opening, now in a triumphant guise, played by the entire orchestra. The work reflects many of Elgar’s foremost qualities as a composer: memorable harmonies, a sensitive sound world, and an inventive approach to form.

Like Elgar’s first symphony, Benjamin Britten’s (1913-1976) piano concerto (1938) has not occupied a permanent or granted place in European standard repertoire, even if both works have garnered more attention during the last few years. Many dismissed the piano concerto as a pure bravura piece, inspired by Shostakovich, while not being of the quality of the rest of Britten’s works. Later, the qualities of this work were acknowledged, also that which lies between the wild, virtuosic Toccata which introduces it and the violent march which concludes it. The concerto never loses its Russian colour, but nevertheless remains both British and “Brittenian”.

(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation (from Norwegian) Sarah Osa; In photo: Leif Ove Andsnes; Photo: Ôzgür Albayrak)


  • Adult: 100 - 470 NOK
  • Senior: 100 - 375 NOK
  • Student: 100 - 235 NOK
  • Child: 100 NOK

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