Author Topic: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow  (Read 1350 times)

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Offline J Joe Townley

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*NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« on: August 18, 2013, 12:59:18 PM »
I recently finished my 2nd Piano Concerto and would like any input the good members of this forum would care to contribute. All comments/opinions positive AND negative are welcomed. Best for me to know beforehand if it's of any quality before I pursue finding a concert pianist to perform it. It's standard length 27 min. and I know it's tough to get through an entire unknown concerto especially if it starts to turn you off after a while. Please just get as far as you can and then render your opinion. Thanks much to those who contribute.  :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WP_9yD8s7o
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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 01:20:25 PM »
Hey Joe! I'm 20 seconds in and just amazed! Beautiful sir! well done!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 04:02:54 PM »
My main problem with this concerto, and with all due respect, is there's not much of a musical narrative happening here. I don't hear anything that tugs at my heart or even makes me sit back and think about what I just heard. In other words, I don't find anything I've heard particularly memorable or something I could possibly latch onto. I didn't listen to the whole work (about 15 minutes or so), but I was completely worn out mentally after listening to it as long as I did. I've read a lot of the positive comments you received for the work and I'm happy that someone else heard something that I didn't in the work. One last criticism is I find there to be a lot of flash and hardly any substance in the piano writing. One fast scale run after another and, again, it doesn't contribute anything other than fatigue on my eardrums. This said, I do think you have a lot of potential and I don't know how long you've been composing, but please continue by all means.

Just my honest two cents...
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline J Joe Townley

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 05:51:28 PM »
Thank so much Sean and Mirror for you feedback. It's very helpful and greatly appreciated.  :)
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Offline Adam of the North(west)

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 04:15:45 PM »
It's nice, but the piano doesn't do much, does it? Lots of scales and impressive sixteenth notes, but they go on forever. They don't mean anything. The first movement's main theme sounds like Rachmaninoff mixed with the Godfather soundtrack. It isn't that memorable, and it's very derivative. I don't mind neo-romanticism, but this is neo-Rachmaninofficm. If you're going to compose in this style do so more uniquely. In the first movement you need more tension. The end comes off flat: it sounds like every other crescendo, except the movement ends after it. This could just be the digital performance, of course, but I still think the ending could be better. The beginning of the second movement starts out nice, but it moves too quickly into the pointless piano scales and such. You have a decent "spooky" theme, but you throw it away pretty quick. It sounds like the Wolf's music, from Peter and the Wolf. Is that what you were going for? After that it all seems like a lot of note-spinning. The rhythm up to this point has been drab and unexciting. It's too straight all the time. I didn't listen past that. Like MI I don't hear any narrative. It's episodic music. The separate movements sound simultaneously self same to one another in their neo-romantic, vacuous fire-works, and entirely disconnected because of it. It's hard to tell a story when you're more concerned with showing off the pianist. Still, I don't know how many pianists would want to play it. It would be really hard to play, but for no reward. I'm sure most would rather play actual Rachmaninoff than learn your concerto. You're competing with 100 year old standards, and I'm afraid you're loosing. That's my (admittedly somewhat pointless) verdict. Sorry if I sound mean, I don't like being mean, but that's all my genuine opinion. I hope that's worth more than empty "nice" feedback. You really do have potential, though, so keep trying.

EDIT:

Have you heard of Rautavaara? He's one of many "romantic" contemporary composers. I think you'd really like his first piano concerto. It's a great example of mixing romantic and modern elements without being derivative.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ank-lcc-bhU

« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 04:42:21 PM by Adam of the North(west) »
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Offline J Joe Townley

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 10:27:22 PM »
Many thanks, Adam for your detailed analysis/critique. As I said I most sincerely welcome the criticism because it is listeners who can point out the weaknesses as well as strengths. Your observations are completely valid ones. I sensed many of these problems myself. In the end there probably just isn't enough going on to set it apart from the thousands of others written in just the last 20 years or so.

The Rautavaara, by the way, was a spectacular "aural" experience. Nice to have the score. I can only imagine those spacial chords in the RH especially at the end have to be played with blocks of wood or the elbow maybe. Thanks much for turning me onto that. 14,000 hits is not too shabby for an unknown classical piece in the world of YouTube these days.

What puzzles me is how the Rachmaninoff 2nd can be played hundreds of thousands of times and yet nobody seems to get tired of it. That's real magic.

I think, therefore I was.

Offline relm1

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2013, 08:18:26 AM »
Nice job! This seems like a true labor of love.  I have four general comments.
1.  Structure: Rachmaninoff was exceptional with structure.  You see it in just about any of his works so I'd suggest you model that structural strength.  For example, how the themes develop, stay just the right about of time, and know how to deliver a knock out blow when needed (at the finale).  So in your music, if one only listened to a randomly selected minute excerpt of it, it would be hard to know if that was the beginning, middle, or end.  This demonstrates a weakness in structure and development so I would certainly advise focus effort in this area.  Usually the way this is taught is by mastering smaller forms first such as 8 bar melody, then song, then binary, then ternary, rondo, variation, sonata, etc.  This is certainly not the only way to learn it but a traditional way.  Have you studied composition formally?  If not, you might enjoy private lessons with a local composer who can work with you on analyzing structure of your favorite pieces.  You need structural growth - where are the contrasting sections, the development, the big recapitulation sections?  Mastering this will help your music.
2. Piano: others have pointed out and I will just reiterate the piano writing is tedious mostly relegated to up and down scales.  The role needs to be more prominent - melodies, perhaps variations on the melodies, etc.  and the exception should be the run up to important segments. For example, the run could conclude a cadenza with a gigantic multi octave run that leads a significant harmonic moment.  Just as a further example, the run might be in a dominant key where you are really emphasizing the arrival at a tonic at the conclusion of the big scale.  This is a very common feature of Romantic/late romantic music because it serves to heighten the harmonic tension but taking longer to resolve so when the resolution does arrive, it is even grander.  The point, reserve those big piano scales to important moments because otherwise they will wear out their welcome.
3. Harmony: I would suggest more innovative harmonies.  Even Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff would use chord substitutions and dissonances more.   You might want to read the Tchaikovsky book on harmony - its well written and basic but does also cover more advanced dramatic devises such as dissonance, modulations, substitutions, 7ths, 9ths, etc.
4. Dramaturgy: This is just a general comment about knowing how to tell a story musically.  Part of it is related to form, but it also includes orchestration and just a general sense of drama.  For example, your orchestration is a bit heavy - so the grand tutti passages lack impact because the whole thing feels grand.  Remember in Rachmaninoff piano concerto no. 2, the big sweeping theme is really just at the end.  Similarly, remember how Beethoven Symphony No. 5, reserves the trombones until the final minutes or the chorus and percussion of Symphony No. 9, until the last movement.  These are examples of dramatic flare.  In general, your first movement should pose a problem that is resolved in the final moments of the last movement.  You can allude to the ending by false ends - Rachmaninoff, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, etc., Shostakovich, frequently do this...and only at the end does the false ending actually result in a grand finale.  This is a nice way to tie in the movements and also make the ending have a resoundingly conclusive feel that all great dramatists have mastered.

Overall, really nice work - I hope I'm not sounding critical because these are very common, challenging problems that many great composers spent their entire life struggling to conquer.  You're in good company.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 08:25:04 AM by relm1 »

Offline J Joe Townley

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Re: *NEW* Piano Concerto No 2 w/ Full Orchestral Score To Follow
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2013, 11:03:03 PM »
Hi relm1 and thanks ever so much for your excellent, superb analysis.

Quote
Have you studied composition formally? 

No. Actually I've been out of music for some 40 years or so. As a teen piano student I had an overwhelming desire to write a piano concerto and premiere it the way Rachmaninoff did with his 1st Concerto, but a severe finger injury finished me as a pianist and I eventually drifted away from music and entered the business world. I spent a lot of leisure time reading orchestra scores of the symphonies that Dover published back in the 70's, mostly for my own enjoyment, not in preparation for any composing---I knew I was finished as a pianist/composer or anything having to do with the classical music world. I took an early retirement and my thoughts drifted back to that piano concerto I always wanted to write so I mulled a project, perused Rimksky-Korsakoff's Orchestration and decided to jump in after gathering some themes. The result was my Piano Concerto No 1 in F-sharp Minor Opus 1. A few months later I embarked on my 2nd Concerto. So you see my compositional background is quite limited.

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I hope I'm not sounding critical

Not at all. I welcome the criticism. It's a great way for me to find out what people really think of the music and to get some very good advice on what to do the next go-round, though I think if there is another go-around I will abandon the romantic idiom and try my hand at contemporary.

By the way, was it evident that the work is very cyclical, in that numerous themes and motifs reoccur in various points throughout all the movements?

 
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 11:07:37 PM by J Joe Townley »
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