The Piano Concerto in C by Ralph Vaughan Williams was written in 1926 and 1930-31 (movement 3). It premiered in February, 1933, by Harriet Cohen, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra directed by Sir Adrian Boult. The Finale was edited later and the work was published in 1936. The concerto was not well received at first, being considered unrewarding to the soloist. Though the piece provides ample opportunity for virtuosity in all movements, Vaughan Williams treated the piano as a percussion instrument instead of a melodic instrument.
Bela Bartók was extremely impressed with the work, and yet Vaughan Williams took the advice of friends and reworked the piece into a Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, adding more texture to the piano parts.
The final version of Frederick Delius’s Piano Concerto is a work in one continuous movement. However it began life as a three-movement composition. Delius was inspired to write a concerto for piano and orchestra after witnessing a performance of the concerto by Edvard Grieg. After sketching out a few measures, however, Delius became disillusioned. His interest in the work was reignited after a conversation with Ferrucio Busoni.
On this week’s English Pastorale, we’ll hear the original versions of both the Vaughan Williams and Delius piano concertos.
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Piano Concerto in C
Frederick Delius – Piano Concerto