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Press – otar Taktakishvili

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Otar Taktakishvili – Piano Concerto No 1 in C minor,
Pianist: Marina Mdivani
The C Minor Concerto for piano and orchestra was written in 1951. It stems from the Liszt virtuosic prototype by the way of Tchaikovski and Rachmaninoff. Characteristically in the spirit of Rachaminoff is the handling of the solo instrument, the improvisational quality of its passages and embellishments, its massive blocked chords and many climaxes within the movements.
With a theme that relates of the high-tension first subject of Tchaikovski’s Fourth Symphony, the full orchestra introduces the opening Allegro. It may be considered a kind of “motto” theme, as it recurs in one form or another, even if only as connective tissue, in the third and last movements. The actual first theme, lyrical, yet impassioned – an interesting cross-pollination of Tchaikovski and Rachmaninoff – is given out by the piano to the ever-surging string accompaniment. in strong contrast to its predecessor, the G major second theme for piano alone is a simple, unadorned, long-spun-out cantabile melody which lends itself well to colorful instrumentation. A skillful intermingling and development of all three themes culminating in a broad titti announcement of the first theme leads to a solo cadenza with surprising Gershwin-esuqe overtones. A lengthy coda gives the intense movement a dynamic close.
The scherzo has a balletic quality; it is a constant invitation to dance. Getting off to a flying start with pizzicato strings and trilling woodwinds, the swift introduction sweeps into troika-like theme. All the glitter and sparkle classic winter dances are inherent in the tune played by the piano to plucked strings and crackling woodwinds supported by a legato horn is taken from a Georgian folk theme “the Maiden Walks on Water” with constantly changing, coloring and shifting rhythms, this scherzo careens along without letup until, in its very last measures, the orchestral instruments fade away, and a wisp of a piano passage puffs the dance away like milkweed before a tiny gust of wind.
A hymn-like melody, starting in the cellos and completed by violins, opens the Andante. This is followed by a wistful tune curiously reminiscent of Gershwin’s Summertime veering into the closing bars of Londonderry Air. This melancholy is given interesting orchestral dress, now taken up by the strings to a rocking woodwind accompaniment, then by the oboe with French and English horn counterpoints over piano figurations. A long middle section in which the “motto” theme is thoroughly worked out by the piano and various orchestral choirs leads back to the original hymn-like tune, this time in the piano with completes the movement with recapitulation of the Summertime-Londonderry Air combination.
The introduction to the finale not only inverts the “motto” theme but changes its mode to major. A gay tune in the piano is the theme of the movement. When it is first played, one feels that it will be subject for a long, involved fugue but it turns out to be the subject of a series of charming variations with almost every instrument taking turn playing it. Having practically exhausted its duple rhythm possibilities, the composer switches to presto three-four coda which hurries the theme and the concerto a brilliant close.
otar Taktakishvili