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MP3 Michelle Ende' and The Bay Area Philharmonic - The Piano Concerto No 1 And Other Works

Glorious classical piano and orchestra in the modern classical tradition.

5 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Concerto, CLASSICAL: Orchestral

The Piano Concerto Number One

In the Romantic tradition, the Piano Concerto Number One, as composed and performed by Michelle Ende’, will become one among the world’s treasured piano works. From the announcement of the key and tempo by woodwinds, the piano is an almost unceasing fixture within the work.

The composer has stated that the music represents the struggle between the individual creator (the piano solo) and the surrounding society which seeks to reign the individual in (through the auspices of the orchestra itself). The piece is powerful and a little reminiscent of Rachmaninoff in its intensity. The composer uses stark chords and a single assignment of notes throughout the orchestral coloring to support, thwart, dominate, and otherwise interfere with the rhythmic and melodic insistence of the piano.

The first movement is almost a race between the piano and the orchestra, with moments of almost reflection, pausing only slightly until a new phrase sets the piano off on a new tack. Although there is a narrow range within which the pianist performs, the strength of the chorded strikes, along with the orchestral backup, serve as one instance to the listener in which he or she takes in the sense of strength and power.

The second movement opens again with woodwinds and strings in an almost Middle Eastern mode. The piano is quieter now, as if we have arrived at some mysterious place of rest where are thoughts, which in the previous movement struggled to catch up, now circle us like lonely vultures, awaiting our own demise. Much more lyrical than the previous movement, it is a welcome addition to our palate. Yet even here, a forceful theme emerges from the recollection, directing us to a new place with its strange melody. We hear snatches of melody, themes belonging to the East, somehow finding their way into this Western music. Yet it fits, it absolutely fits. And as mysteriously as it began, the movement abruptly ends.

The third movement starts with the melancholy piano. An idea, a thought, a notion of what the coming movement will be, is spoken in small pieces of melody. Once can hear the continuation of the second movement’s mood, and yet this soon flees, as the orchestra begins taking up pieces of the chord and melody and the piano, once again, begins an argument with the orchestra. Suddenly, deep throated Trombones have a say in the process and statements are made on both sides, by the piano and the orchestra. A little talk by the strings, echoed by the piano, and a new statement of discordant chords are played until it gives way to a glorious theme, at once sad and resigned; yet struggling on, the theme changes to a major, hopeful theme taken up by the strings and woodwinds. All of this leads to a gradual build up of both orchestra and piano, reaching a sparkling climax in which you can literally hear the composer’s spirit soar among the orchestra. The work winds down to bassoons and piano and two solemn chords end the piece.

The Garden Meditation

Somewhere, a quiet garden exists and somehow, we have been privileged to look in on this idyllic scene. It is almost as if we had stepped into a Renoir painting, with hints of color and movement here and there. Flutes and Viola accompany us as the piano shows us this secret garden. Idyllic, reflective, and all too short, sums up this wonderful tone poem for piano and orchestra.


This is one of Michelle Ende’s darker Tone Poems. The listener can hear the terror in the air. Darkness is approaching as the sun begins to dip toward the horizon. A solo Viola announces its fears, slowly taken up by other parts of the orchestra. The mood is heavy and something terrible has happened in this village. The pall of death and smoke are in the air and night is a fearful thing. As the sun sinks, the fear grows almost to a cry as announced by the French Horns and Trombones. This is not the sunset of Sabbath, nor the sunset of childhood. No, this is the sunset of war. Mourning, confusion, and fear are the only gifts this night will bring.

Our thanks to the Bay Area Philharmonic for reading through the various scores with us, making these works come alive. Our thanks to the sound engineers who kept these performances true our vision.

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