On Wednesday 26 July, Steven Osborne performs in the World Premiere of Julian Anderson's much-anticipated Piano Concerto - "The Imaginary Museum" at the BBC Proms.
Osborne is a leading exponent of British repertoire and has won numerous awards for his highly acclaimed performances of works by Tippett and Britten. He has been a long time admirer of Julian Anderson's music and is delighted that Julian has written a piano concerto for him. Future performances include September 2017 with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and August 2018 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Julian Anderson has described the piece as "a sequence of toccatas, with strongly contrasting acoustic and dramatic character. I use the term ‘toccata’ here to mean literally an exploration of different types of piano touch – legato, staccato, mezzo-staccato, staccatissimo, all of them with or without pedal. Each of these sounds, in any of the piano’s registers, has orchestral equivalents and likewise, each orchestral texture and acoustic has a parallel piano texture and touch. Unlike many melodic instruments, the piano cannot move or be moved during performance.
This concerto therefore takes the piano on an imaginary journey through different virtual locations, as if this most static of instruments were moving not only to different parts of the hall where the music is played (when in reality it is always in the normal front of stage position), but also to different types of terrain outside the hall – a cave, a cathedral, a mountain-top, an echoing grove, a tropical thunderstorm, even perhaps an art gallery. These are evoked by means of the piano’s use of different registers, dynamics, touch and pedalling, and by the interaction between the piano and the orchestra, the latter creating various kinds of imaginary acoustical spaces around the piano sound and transporting it from location to location.
Colour, light and shade, environment and landscape are all evoked in a purely imaginary, and therefore ambiguous, way in each part of the music. The listener may find hearing the work somewhat akin to a fantastical but (hopefully) well-planned exploration. This new concerto is the latest of a series of pieces in my output dealing with space, landscape and location."