Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Thomas Adès’ piano concerto from 2018 simultaneously pushes boundaries and embraces tradition. Gutsily performed by Kirill Gerstein and the Boston Symphony (with terrific recorded sound), its opening combines a rich Romantic texture with the mischievous exuberance of Bartók and Prokofiev, piano glissandos and huge block chords rising heroically above Adès’ intricate scoring. Modern big-band jazz infuses the gentler second movement before the finale propels toward an explosive finish with fizzing orchestrations and a frenzy of piano octaves. Equally dazzling is the 2013 Totentanz for baritone, mezzo-soprano, and orchestra, depicting Death’s dances with every stratum of society, from Pope to infant. Endlessly inventive, dark but often witty too, the collection features echoes of grand Mahlerian sweep and the eccentricity of Orff’s Carmina Burana.