Everything Has Changed, Nothing Has Changed – Piano Concerto (2009) 25 minutes.
First performance: Reykjavík 2010, Víkingur Ólafsson, Caput Ensemble, Snorri Sigfús Birgisson.
Instrumentation: 184.108.40.206-220.127.116.11-perc(2)-solo pno-strings(18.104.22.168.)
Sudden motion and stillness are juxtaposed throughout the first movement. The same thematic material is developed into many shapes and colours, from neurotic tension to a fragile and impressionistic finesse. The movement is bound together by several long arches of mounting tension, which find complete release only at the very end.
The second movement begins with complete stillness, not unrelated to Bartok’s night music moods. Deserted murmurs are heard from the solo winds and brass and, as with the rest of the introverted episodes of this concerto, any mood of calmness is always in the context of serious underlying tension. The feeling that the unexpected might happen at any given moment never leaves the listener, and surely enough the hidden threats in the night reveal themselves as the movement progresses.
The final movement is the shortest of the three and begins with primitive material of great rhythmic resistance, before releasing into a vibrant joie de vivre dance. Towards the end there are reminiscent flashes of material from the two earlier movements in a striking piano cadenza before a tumultuous coda leaves the listener with unsolved questions and tension that still hovers in the air as the final sounds come to a close. Nothing has changed after all, yet things are not the same. (Víkingur Ólafsson)
Listen to excerpt: