Since the composition of Landscape for piano and string orchestra (1990), none of my orchestral work has involved a soloist. So the opportunity to write a piano concerto was an exciting one, especially since it was to be for the exceptional pianist Jorge Suarez.
One of the great challenges in a concerto is to solve the difficulty caused by having two resources (ensemble and soloist) with which to present and develop thematic material. This requires a carefully thought-out balance between these two elements, from which must unfold the dramatic effect of the work. And it is above all the drama of the interaction between the soloist and orchestra which I have sought to convey; in this sense the work comes out of and places itself in the continuum of the Western art music tradition.
I designed the concerto in five movements, though it is essentially a modified three movement work, with movements two and four being cadenzas (the first for the orchestra, the second for the soloist). It is my intention with this dual-cadenza structure to make a statement about the equality of the partnership between the orchestra and the piano, as well as to provide a sense of balance around the central slow movement. The whole work then emerges as a type of arch form. This partnership is further enhanced by the detailed ensemble interaction which is called for between the orchestra and soloist.
My Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was composed between March of 1998 and May of 1999, in both Canada and France. It was commissioned by Eduardo Diamuñoz and the Orquestra Sinfónica Carlos Chavez, and was written for pianist Jorge Suarez. Financial assistance for the commission was provided by the Canada Council for the Arts.
The premier performance tooke place on June 25 and 27, 1999, at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara, Mexico. Gordon Campbell conducted the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra with soloist Jorge Suarez.