Help! Picking a first concerto!

Posted by: Gould

Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 08:58 AM

So after years and years of waiting my teacher finally gave me the thumbs up to start working on a concerto! After a long discussion, he gave me the chance to pick my own concerto and to start working on it from there; he trusts that I won't choose something overly bombastic such as things like Brahms, Rach, Tchaik,etc.
After thinking about it, i've narrowed my choices to be down to the romantic era. Problem is, I CAN'T DECIDE. There are just too many beautiful gems to pick from!

It would be amazing if someone could share me an insight about this and perhaps even suggest some wonderful romantic concertos!

P.S I don't really want to choose a overplayed concerto such as the Grieg and Mendelssohn.

Thank you soo much in advance! smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 09:05 AM

chopin 1 if you can handle it
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 09:22 AM

The Chopin 1 isn't a great beginner concerto. It's significantly hard. All the romantic era concertos are incredibly hard if you remove the Grieg concerto from the list. Why not try one of the last 8 mozart concertos or Beethoven's 1st or 2nd concerto as your first concerto and then try a romantic concerto.
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 09:53 AM

Didin't want to choose a classical concerto because I simply have no interest in classical works, haha. Though I seriously adore and love listening to them being played; I don't really have much interest in actually learning a classical concerto. The only classical concerto's that I would have wanted to play would probably be far beyond my reach, cough Beethoven 4,5 Mozart 20, 24, etc.

p.s Yes, I do know that I sound a tad bit overambitious. :P
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 09:56 AM

In sheer technical terms, Mozart 20, 24 are easier than the Grieg Concerto.
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:05 AM

Perhaps in general terms, but haha, Mozart is terribly difficult in his "own" way I suppose. Clarity, clarity, clarity! Ahhh. What a pain it is.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:05 AM

Arpan is right, that's why I said "if you can handle it" lol. I actually love Mozart's 23rd concerto. So pretty. Try that one.
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:10 AM

I do love the 23th concerto! Especially the heartbreaking second movement! But as I originally stated. I have no interest in learning a classical concerto! smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:17 AM

What do you have in mind?
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:32 AM

Some of the MANY wandering concertos floating in my fickle minded mind are smile
G.Pierne's Concerto. It's truly an amazing concerto and definitely deserves a lot more public eye!

Scriabin's Concerto, same thing applies like the Pierne. Wonder why no one plays this work often...

Teacher suggested either Liszt 1,2 or the Yellow River concerto (not romantic but still.)

As of now I am in a dilema! Soo many to choose from!
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:00 AM

What's your current playing level?
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:21 AM

Hey there. Not really sure how I can properly answer that question. I guess I should generally be fairly average I hope!
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:44 AM

Try Shostakovich No. 2. No. 1 isn't too difficult, either, compared to Prokofiev, etc.

Gershwin's Concerto in F has some scintillating moments.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 12:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Gould
The only classical concerto's that I would have wanted to play would probably be far beyond my reach, cough Beethoven 4,5 Mozart 20, 24, etc.

p.s Yes, I do know that I sound a tad bit overambitious. :P

And yet you say your teacher recommends Liszt? Not sure I'm following the thought process here... also, why not play Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff if you're at that level?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 12:08 PM

Why a concerto? Do you want to play something for 2 pianos, or do you want to play with an ensemble. If the former, why not play something for 2 pianos? If the latter, why not play some chamber music?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 12:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
And yet you say your teacher recommends Liszt? Not sure I'm following the thought process here... also, why not play Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff if you're at that level?

Well, my piano teacher gave me Rach2 right after I finished the Beethoven Pathetique. I didn't even want to play Rach2. My playing level was far below the music's demands.

Some teachers are trying to live vicariously through their students, you know?
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 12:44 PM

Yes, the Scriabin Concerto is gorgeous. I find the orchestration far superior to that of the Chopin concertos. However, the Scriabin concerto is incredibly difficult, especially if you are going to play it with a second pianist, because of the abundance of poly-rhythms. If you can play the Liszt concerto, why not do the second one. I find the first a bit dry. And to bring up a current topic in this forum, "why no love for Mozart and Beethoven?" .

Furthermore, I'd highly recommend you play some chamber music before trying a concerto. Try finding a good violinist and do a Beethoven violin sonata. If you are felling a bit more romantic you can also try the Grieg sonatas or the Brahms sonatas. This will develop your communication skills immensely.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 01:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Gould

P.S I don't really want to choose a overplayed concerto such as the Grieg and Mendelssohn.

How about Mendelssohn's 2nd piano concerto? I much prefer it to the first. Rarely played, lots of romanticism, and a beautiful 2nd movement.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 01:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Gould
Hey there. Not really sure how I can properly answer that question. I guess I should generally be fairly average I hope!


A list of your current repertoire would be much more helpful than "fairly average I hope."

I am not sure, however, that I fully understand the question. When you say that there are too many beautiful ones from which to choose, it sounds as if you are familiar with most of the Romantic concerto repertoire. If that is so, then what sort of suggestions can we make? Anything not main stream may be hard to find, but, ultimately, we can't choose for you, that's something you and your teacher ultimately have to do.

I would rely on my teacher - who knows my skills, my musical and artistic needs as well as my likes and dislikes - to help me decide which concerto to choose.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 05:53 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Derulux
And yet you say your teacher recommends Liszt? Not sure I'm following the thought process here... also, why not play Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff if you're at that level?

Well, my piano teacher gave me Rach2 right after I finished the Beethoven Pathetique. I didn't even want to play Rach2. My playing level was far below the music's demands.

Some teachers are trying to live vicariously through their students, you know?

Yep, I can follow you there. I guess I'm trying to figure out this person's actual ability level (as separate from "fairly okay I guess"). Several contradicting statements do not lend to a straightforward and simple reply unless we clarify them. wink
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 06:47 PM

Not really expecting to get a final choice from the forums but rather was hoping to find suggestions and help towards choosing the concerto. Some works that i've recently finished over the past months Schubert A minor Sonata (d784), Liszt's 2 legendes, Mendelssohn's Rondo Cap., Bach P&F WTC 2: B minor
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 07:03 PM

I'd go with a Mozart concerto. And wait a week or so before starting the Mozart concerto, so you can listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlhbFk2GbcY

this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrNbmFM6O60

and this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1i_fL5QCw

all over and over again to help understand the heart of Mozart. The center of Mozart was opera, and its influence is VERY in his pieces.
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:34 PM

Originally Posted By: arpan70
However, the Scriabin concerto is incredibly difficult, especially if you are going to play it with a second pianist, because of the abundance of poly-rhythms.


Not only that, the whole piece is awkward beyond belief. However difficult the Scriabin concerto may sound, it's about 10x more so.
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 10:47 PM

In addition to the Mozart, there are a couple Bach concerti that rarely see the light of day. If you're looking for something obscure, I'm sure Thalbergmad (I believe he visits these forums) has a long list of easier Romantic and Classical concerti that could be worth taking a look at.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:19 PM

Romantic - Bombastic - Overplayed = Nothing Left.

Maybe the Strauss Burlesque?
Franck Symphonic Variations?
MacDowell #2? (too bombastic?)

Why not Ravel? Why not Beethoven 3?

If this isn't for a potential competition or orchestral performance, then chamber music also a good idea - if you have string players at your disposal, maybe Mozart g minor quartet, one of the Op. 1 Beethoven trios or a Mendelssohn trio?
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Romantic - Bombastic - Overplayed = Nothing Left.

Maybe the Strauss Burlesque?
Franck Symphonic Variations?
MacDowell #2? (too bombastic?)

Why not Ravel? Why not Beethoven 3?

If this isn't for a potential competition or orchestral performance, then chamber music also a good idea - if you have string players at your disposal, maybe Mozart g minor quartet, one of the Op. 1 Beethoven trios or a Mendelssohn trio?


It isin't for a competition but it is for a performance with my teachers orchestra for next year. Though chamber music is wonderful I would rather prefer to learn a concerto for now. I didin't want to choose the Ravel or Beethoven because I am positive that it would be negatively received by the unfortunately less musically inclined audiences around my area. In other words i'm searching for a concerto that can be universally loved by the masses; i.e trying to promote classical music towards audiences that don't usually think highly of it.

Your suggestions were amazing! Listening to them at the moment. smile
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/12/12 11:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

(too bombastic?)


Sorry, I said that wrongly. When I said bombastic I was referring to ridiculously difficult concertos in technical terms, stamina, etc. Such as Brahms 2, Tchaik 1, etc.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 12:36 AM

I think a "less musically inclined" audience would love something like Ravel, Shostakovich 2, or even Kabalevsky 3. The latter two especially are underplayed, and all three are a bit jazzy.

Kabalevsky 3 gets a bad rap for its subtitle ("Youth"), but it's completely delightful. Besides, if it's good enough for Gilels, it's good enough for ANYBODY:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ILILmNuPZI
(an old recording, out of tune, but it's Gilels, so it's still awesome)


Originally Posted By: Gould
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Romantic - Bombastic - Overplayed = Nothing Left.

Maybe the Strauss Burlesque?
Franck Symphonic Variations?
MacDowell #2? (too bombastic?)

Why not Ravel? Why not Beethoven 3?

If this isn't for a potential competition or orchestral performance, then chamber music also a good idea - if you have string players at your disposal, maybe Mozart g minor quartet, one of the Op. 1 Beethoven trios or a Mendelssohn trio?


It isin't for a competition but it is for a performance with my teachers orchestra for next year. Though chamber music is wonderful I would rather prefer to learn a concerto for now. I didin't want to choose the Ravel or Beethoven because I am positive that it would be negatively received by the unfortunately less musically inclined audiences around my area. In other words i'm searching for a concerto that can be universally loved by the masses; i.e trying to promote classical music towards audiences that don't usually think highly of it.

Your suggestions were amazing! Listening to them at the moment. smile
Posted by: BDB

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 12:50 AM

Or consider a concerto that can be played as a chamber work. That was an option for the concertos that were published during Mozart's lifetime, K.413-449, all of which are pretty interesting works.
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 12:51 AM

The Kabalevsky 3 had always been on my mind but... (don't kill me) it feels a little condescending and unimpressive to have that concerto in my rep., partially due to the infamy it received as being a "Youth"/Beginner concerto.
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 01:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Romantic - Bombastic - Overplayed = Nothing Left.


Not exactly, but getting an orchestra to perform a Melcer PC or a Bortkiewicz PC might prove to be a challenge.
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 01:07 AM

I'd go with Grieg.
Posted by: debrucey

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 03:08 AM

But this is your first concerto, so a 'beginner' concerto is a good idea.
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 09:10 AM

The Strauss might be an overkill. For the orchestra as well as for the pianist. It would sound horrible with a student orchestra

Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 09:17 AM

And why not try Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The audience will be impressed and it won't be too taxing on you like the other suggestions.
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 10:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Gould

It isin't for a competition but it is for a performance with my teachers orchestra for next year. Though chamber music is wonderful I would rather prefer to learn a concerto for now. I didin't want to choose the Ravel or Beethoven because I am positive that it would be negatively received by the unfortunately less musically inclined audiences around my area. In other words i'm searching for a concerto that can be universally loved by the masses; i.e trying to promote classical music towards audiences that don't usually think highly of it.

There is an arrangement for piano and orchestra by Adler of Gottschalk's Union, which is subtitled Paraphrase de Concert on the National airs Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle, and Hail Columbia. If you are in the US it hard to imagine an audience that would not enjoy this.

The original solo piano version is very difficult but the arrangement makes it much easier. I performed this in high school with the local youth orchestra. This arrangement also seems to be fairly obscure. I could not find it on Youtube and could only find one recording of it.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 01:49 PM

Gershwin, Concerto in F. The average non-classical audience will love it.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/13/12 05:30 PM

Schumann! (or maybe Saint-Saëns 2, Franck Variations symphoniques, Hummel, Weber Konzertstück, Alkan concerto da camera, Rimsky-Korsakov, Arensky) but Schumann!
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/14/12 09:54 PM

Assembling quotes from Gould’s posts in this thread in an attempt to understand what he really wants, leaves me somewhat at a loss to know what s/he is looking for and even more at a loss to know what to suggest.

After thinking about it, i've narrowed my choices to be down to the romantic era. Problem is, I CAN'T DECIDE. There are just too many beautiful gems to pick from!
It would be amazing if someone could share me an insight about this and perhaps even suggest some wonderful romantic concertos! (1957764)


Though I seriously adore and love listening to [classical concerti] being played; I don't really have much interest in actually learning a classical concerto. The only classical concerto's that I would have wanted to play would probably be far beyond my reach, cough Beethoven 4,5 Mozart 20, 24, etc.


Teacher suggested either Liszt 1, 2 or the Yellow River concerto (not romantic but still.) (1957792)

It isin't for a competition but it is for a performance with my teachers orchestra for next year. Though chamber music is wonderful I would rather prefer to learn a concerto for now. I didin't want to choose the Ravel or Beethoven because I am positive that it would be negatively received by the unfortunately less musically inclined audiences around my area. In other words i'm searching for a concerto that can be universally loved by the masses; i.e trying to promote classical music towards audiences that don't usually think highly of it. (1958097)

The Kabalevsky 3 had always been on my mind but... (don't kill me) it feels a little condescending and unimpressive to have that concerto in my rep., partially due to the infamy it received as being a "Youth"/Beginner concerto. (1958113)


First, there was a simple request for suggestions of a Romantic piano concerto, no mention of audience “requirements,” but then, after numerous suggestions were made, the rules of the game change to require something that must be “loved by the masses.”
1. He “seriously adore[s] and love[s] listening to” classical concerti being played, but has no interest in learning one, and seems somewhat dismissive of the cornerstones of modern piano concerti, although ...
2. he has nevertheless thought of the Beethoven Fourth or Fifth, or the Mozart No 20 or 24, but they would be “far beyond [his] reach. But then he admits that the Beethoven would be negatively received, as would the Ravel, because his audience is “less musically inclined.”
3. So, he limits his wants to a Romantic concerto “loved by the masses,” and his teacher suggests the Liszt E-flat major or A major. Mozart and Beethoven would be beyond his reach, but the two Liszt concerti wouldn’t be?
4. A beginner concerto is not appropriate because “it would [feel] a little condescending and unimpressive to have that concerto in [his] rep"! He wants to impress, but not with a work as difficult as a Mozart or a late Beethoven concerto. On the other hand, however, the Kabalevsky is “infamous” as a “beginner concerto”?
5. With no concerto in his rep, as of the present, he yet wants to be impressive with a “beautiful gem” of a Romantic concerto.

How does one come up with a work that fulfills all of these requirements?

I'm at a loss. How about Addinsell's "Warsaw Concerto"? Your unwashed, uneducated masses should love that one! I rather like it myself; what does that make me?
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/14/12 10:54 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
I'm at a loss. How about Addinsell's "Warsaw Concerto"? Your unwashed, uneducated masses should love that one!


Oh God, no!
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/15/12 02:22 PM

Thank you so much for that very detailed analysis. Is there really that much to think about seriously?

All I asked for were suggestions for a romantic concerto that appeals to all and is not too notorious for it being overplayed. I happen to live in country in south east asia( I shan't specify) where most people do not appreciate classical music yet, hence I am trying to find a concerto that would appeal to non-inclined musical audiences.

Yes I do admit that I feel that the Ravel would not be appreciated here. So what? Considering that most of the population around my area consists of middle and low working class people ranging from little restaurants to hawker stalls and to tiny offices why can't I think so? I certainly see no reason not to speculate that.

So in the end what is wrong with being a little ambitious and taking on a harder romantic concerto instead of a starter? I'm not exactly a complete greenhorn so I don't think I would be missing on THAT much if I were to skip a "beginner" concerto.
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/15/12 03:59 PM

Based on some of your past repertoire, as seen from your posts, it would not be reccommendable by any standard to play either Liszt concerti, especially a year and a half after doing fur elise. Again, I believe, which I assume many others would as well, that you should do a 'beginner' concerto. It would be fine to be a little ambitious if you were playing only for study purpose. However, it is not advisable to be extremely ambitious when you will be playing with an orchestra and for an audience. Furthermore, since the audience is not well versed in classical music, giving a not so great performance would just steer them away from classical music.

You must also consider the limitations of the orchestra. I am assuming that the orchestra is small and not very good because of the fact that they have taken a non-professional to play with them. Perhaps the orchestra might not be able to play a large romantic concerto well. I doubt the audience would like such a performance. Thus, I urge you to play a classical concerto. Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 would work very well with the audience. It is the kind of piece that is immediately attractive. It doesn't require repeated listens to appreciate. It won't be taxing on the orchestra and it won't be too hard( though still hard) on you as well. This will ensure a better performance and a happier audience than you would get playing an overly-ambitious romantic concerto.

Lastly, when you are playing for an audience, please think about the performance as a whole and of how the audience would feel trying to increase your self-esteem by completing a romantic concerto( though in an incomplete manner). Your aim should be to make the audience happy as well as they are giving you their time and money(?) to watch you play. And please pay heed to the advice givenby the members of the forum or else put yourself at risk of turning into a mazurkajoe in the Beethoven Sonata Advicee post.
Posted by: Gould

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 09/15/12 10:00 PM

Thank you all for the amazing advice. I have listened to all those suggested pieces and suggestions but for the first time I shan't listen to the advice of picking a "beginner" concerto and shall delve quickly into a bigger concerto. I shall see my progress in the upcoming year. Thank you again.
Posted by: jdott

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 01/18/13 12:18 PM

Since you nixed the Grieg: avoid Liszt and Rachmaninoff; you'll only get discouraged. A romantic era? Saint-Saens maybe, or possibly Schumann. I agree that both Chopin are difficult, but the orchestration in both is horrible. Some great music in them, but both should have been sonatas, not concerti.
Posted by: celegorma

Re: Help! Picking a first concerto! - 01/23/13 06:58 PM

There are many ways of looking at this choice. What is your main goal of learning the concerto and what will you be doing with it most of the time? If your main goal is to get an orchestra to play it with you, then of course the Chopins are bad. But if your main goal is to play with a pianist or even just to play it as a solo piece, then the Chopins are great choices and you will definitely enjoy the process of learning them because they sound great already on their own.