The Concerto for Keyboards and Orchestra, so-called because the soloist plays three different keyboard instruments (piano, electric piano, and celeste), rather than piano only, was written in 1977-78, but has undergone minor revisions since then.
The work is in three movements without pause, the fulcrum of the work being a slow middle movement.
I have written five concertos prior to this one. The first was a concerto for piano and chamber orchestra written in 1958. In each case I have given considerable thought to the problem of bringing fresh ideas to a solo work and at the same time employing techniques which enhance the sound of the particular instrument. For instance, the sound of the piano (and this is a great simplification) is enriched by the use of thirds and fifths.
The concerto begins with the sound of an open fifth. This opening is followed by the celesta introducing a chord based on two major thirds and one minor third. These ?harmonies? really represent the materials of most of the work. So much for an intellectual analysis!
The object of any concerto is to allow the soloist to ?show his stuff.? The soloist would like to be able to do things that make us wonder at his virtuosity and sensitivity. This concerto, I hope, allows the soloist plenty of room for that.
Years ago when I first considered the idea of writing a piano concerto, I had pondered the idea of a work which would make use of conventional playing on the keys as well as reaching inside for special sounds of various kinds. This presented me with two problems. The first is that of the audience being faced with the pianist?s derriere, a sight which might or might not be interesting. The second is the inevitable confrontation with the local piano technician. Since I was really looking for more colors than I could obtain from a conventionally-played piano, I eventually arrived at the idea for the work you are to hear this evening.