The Piano Concerto belongs to the composer's Parisian period (1955-1960), and was composed at the request of the British pianist Eileen Joyce (1957), who paradoxically, it never reached.
Mikis young at his piano
It was preceded by the Suite No.1 for Piano and Orchestra (1955), where the composer's attitude towards the piano as a solo instrument has an entire individual character.
The latter is an impetuous, almost violent, work. It combines elements of twelve-tone writing with the dazzling music of Crete, its archetypal rhythms and its Doric quintessence.
So, in contrast to the Suite, the composer attempted, through the Piano Concerto, a different approach to the piano as a solo instrument, as well as the orchestra, which provides a context for the dialogue between piano and orchestra.
In 1957-58, Theodorakis discovered the technique of Tetrachords, which he employed in the First movement of the Concerto.
This technique, in combination with the lyrical character of the musical themes, creates an individual lyrical-reflective mood. It suggests an inner tranquillity, which can be seen as a general sign of maturity in Theodorakis as a composer. In addition to the tetrachordic elements, one can hear sparkling themes based on the national music of Greece.
Such themes emerge in the third and last movement of the Piano Concerto as an exciting dance from Crete. This is reminiscent of the Finale of the Suite, but the difference is that, in contrast to the Dionysian character of the Suite, the Concerto maintains its lyrical and reflective character.
The second movement, elegiac and dramatic with tragic overtones, introduces its theme by using twelve-tone (dodecachordic) systems, culminating in free, melodic and harmonic combinations, in achieving a crescendo of dramatic excitement.
© Translated by ©Tatiana Papageorgiou
CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA, AST 108
New coda: December 1996
1. Allegro ma non troppo
Creation: Pireus, 1966
Aliki Vatikioti, piano, Popular S.O. of du Pireus
dir.: Mikis Theodorakis
Premiere with the new coda: 25.5.1998
Queen Elisabeth Hall, London
Tatiana Papageorghiou, piano, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, dir.: Mikis Theodorakis