On May 22, 1924, Igor Stravinsky premiered his Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. Stravinsky himself played the piano at the premiere, with the ensemble under the direction of Serge Koussevitzky at the Opera of Paris on May 22, 1924. Koussevitzky had requested such a work of Stravinsky. Stravinsky kept the performance rights for the work to himself for a number of years, as he wished to keep “incompetent or Romantic hands” from interpreting the piece for audiences.
The wind orchestra is scored for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, two bassoons (second bassoon doubling contrabassoon), four horns, four trumpets, three trombones and tuba and accompanied by timpani, cymbals. A piano concerto with a wind orchestra was a very unusual form at this time.
The piano part is devilishly hard, with leaping ragtime rhythms executed at an unrelenting pace throughout the work’s three movements. The central movement is one of the most beautiful passages in the wind literature. Whether you know the work or you are newly discovering it, take time to hear this wonderful performance by soloist Alexander Toradze and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Valery Gergiev conducting.