So how does one make the standard piano concerto format more innovative? By adding a second solo instrument, of course. That is precisely how Dmitry Shostakovich emboldened his Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor. The result is a neo-classically inspired work that is at once brash and refined, carefully laid out yet unpredictable.
This weekend at Powell Hall it's a classic example of musical storytelling, a cocky, nose-thumbing piano concerto by a musical wise guy in his 20s, and a bit of orchestral delirium.
As anyone who has ever taken a “music depreciation” course will recall, “program music” writing essays is the label applied (sometimes dismissively) to any composition either inspired by or intended to depict something non-musical. That usually means the dramatic, literary, or visual arts, although history and nature figure prominently as well.