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Piano concerto in C minor - I "Moderato"


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Hi everyone, 

For those who don't know me my name is Camille, I'm French and I'm 17 years old. I'm familiar with classical music and orchestral litterature and I often compose for piano and orchestra.
These last 3 months I composed a piano concerto in C minor. This is my big project of the moment and also the one that took me most time to compose. I create this topic to share the first movement of this piano concerto. It lasts about 17 minutes and follow a strict sonata form. I took the habit to compose a piano concerto per year and this is what I consider my most accomplished piece so far. 
Here is below the score and the audio. Enjoy the music, and, please, tell me your opinion about this composition. 

 

STRUCTURE OF THE MOVEMENT :


INTRODUCTION :
M. 1-31 (Moderato, TEMPO I) : Orchestral introduction, statement of the first “theme” on cellos and violas. Dramatic crescendo until the piano entrance
M 31-39 : brief piano cadenza allowing the listener to be more familiar with the main theme/material of the piece. Little arpeggios 
EXPOSITION:
M. 40  76 (Allegro) : This is the one ! After a short motif used later in the concerto (in the cello/bass part) statement of the THEME 1 A (violins parts) that as been stated in the introduction. Repeated in piano part m.57. The reappearance of theme 1A leads to a dramatic climax m.70 (being the continuity of 1A).
M. 77  120 (Vivace) : THEME 1 B. Much faster, this theme consists of a repeated eight-notes pattern in the woods. The piano responds with an avalanche of sixteenth notes. Until m.120, strings are an accompaniment. Main motives are stated in the woods (such as the motif m99, flutes and oboes, it will appear later in the development). The pianist is showing is virtuosity in his modulating part and is assisting the orchestra. M17-20 : end the of first theme with a frenetic climb.
M 120-127 : Transition to THEME 2. The piano part is quoting 1A and the clarinets are stating a thematic material of transition later used in the development. The rhythm seems to slow down allowing a quasi-cadenza in piano part (m127) leading to…
M 128-150 (Andante) : THEME 2A. Lyrical theme (piano part) that appears 3 times, each one being richer in accompaniment and chord. The 3rd one is introduced by the clarinet material OF m120-127.
M 150-169 : THEME 2B : consisting (mainly) of one quarter note and six descending quavers. Again, a virtuosic piano and a support orchestra merges and form a whole for this 2B.
M 170-184 : Return of THEME 2A but in a heroic climax where the piano supports the orchestra with arpeggiated chords. Transition with big orchestra chord until…
M. 185-194 : ENDING OF EXPOSITION : Theme 2A and 2B are combined but in a the minor key of C to allow the arrival of 
DEVELOPMENT:
M. 195  215 : A repetition of the orchestral introduction with a few small things arranged to lead to the development
M. 215  250 : Basically THEME 1A is all over the place, dissected, disguised, modulated. Have fun trying to count how many times it appears, you will be wide of the mark lol (You’ll notice, by the way, the transition theme M247, clarinets).
M. 251 : 266 : Same thing as m215-250 but with THEME 1 B.
M. 267-280 : mish-mash of T1A and T1B leading to
CADENZA:
M 280-323 : The cadenza is divided in two parts each one being a recapture of T1A. One is aggressive and fast while the other must be played maestoso.
M 323-337 (En ralentissant tempo T2) : THEME 2 A being stated in the form of a bucolic love letter leading to
M. 339  350 (Tempo I) : orchestral introduction allows the arrival of :

RECAPITULATION:
M. 350  383 : THEME 1A is repeated with a long piano speech of with what I called earlier the “continuity of” 1A.
M.384  404 : THEME 1B (modulations, few changes + new clarinet melody) + transition theme leading to
M 405  417 : Small piano cadenza, this one could be improvised by the pianist ! Statement of THEME 2 A with big and dramatic piano chords helping the orchestra to achieve the tragic of the moment.
M 418  421 : THEME 2 B faster and faster.
CODA :
M. 422 - END (Vivace) : Using of T1A with virtuosic piano passages and symbiosis between soloist and orchestra until the end.

 

Edited by Camfrtt
Adding the structure plan
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Dang! Going to start off my paragraph here with the compliment that I listened to the whole 17 minutes! You should really walk away feeling awesome that you wrote this, and despite what I say below I love this piece of music and I have massive respect for you.

Time lengths scare me, but your music definitely washed me into it very well. I can hear the glaring similarity in tone and power to Rachmaninoff's 2nd, which you say is one of your favorite composers in your bio, but it is almost uncanny. My biggest problem with the piece is that, while of course they are your ideas, there is just this off feeling that I am just listening to another Rach concerto - instead of Camille's concerto! Take this whatever way you like, but the piece was epic on several scales and I am happy to meet another 17 year old clarinetist +  composer! Pen pal me if you want lol seems like we have stuff in common.

Your first 4 minutes really had me hooked, but I feel this piece fell under what I consider the "just keep going" mentality so many composers do. The music I have grown to love is music that is concise and knows when to call it quits. IMO, no piece of music (er, more like movement of music) ever needs to be more than 10 minutes long. There is just so much lost in my memory that I literally can't remember your ideas and moments because there were so many. I think it is cooler to pick and choose the best ideas from the grape vine instead of stacking them all into one giant piece.

Length is something I have noticed a lot of stuff late-romantic and earlier have trouble with (maybe the handwritten scores didn't help). Totally subjective to me, though, but most composers I listen to (Ravel, Debussy, Adams, Reich,  Poulenc) know when to end their music. My most recent piece, the first movement of my Suite of Minimalism, wraps up at just 4 minutes 30 seconds. There are so many variations I meshed together to create a cohesive package of sound flavors for the listener, and I did this on purpose following my mentallity listed in this paragraph. 

Your work is finished, and I do not want you to go and delete 12 minutes of this just to fit into my critique. I can't tell if you are using noteperformer or some other sounds but they sound really great. Kudos to you on this big project, and I hope you take a few minutes to go listen to that piece I mentioned above that I wrote + leave your take. Thanks for the fun listen 🙂!

- Evan

Edited by Eickso
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I really like the slow build you have in the beginning.  The introduction segues nicely into almost a kind of cadenza for the piano although I know the cadenza-proper comes much later.  For me listening without the score a second time allows me much better to hear the melodies.  I feel like the piano figurations should be more based on the melody instead of just arpeggios like you have at 7:02.  I mean that's a great moment you have where the orchestra hits a chord and the piano solos a bit and then repeats.  The same kind of thing happens at 9:13 where the piano just plays arpeggios.  I guess they're great opportunities for showmanship but they would be more memorable imo if they were based on a melody.  The flute melody you have after the piano cadenza reminds me of Rachmaninoff.  It develops nicely on the piano and I wouldn't call it a copy by any means.  But I guess there are in fact many places where the piano does base it's figurations on a melody such as 16:50.  Almost no need to say that overall this is an outstanding concerto!  (listening for the 3rd time) The passionate A theme is nicely contrasted by the rushing figurations at 2:53.  I love the clarinet melody you have at 4:12.  The slow build at 7:40 develops nicely into another instance where the piano figurations are based on a melody at 8:24.  The piano at 9:00 is brilliant.  10:32 is a bit arpeggio heavy but I guess it can't really be avoided sometimes in this style of concerto.  I like the gradual way you bring the piano out of it's cadenza while at the same time avoiding the customary tonic 6/4 chord and trill.  I'm guessing that the coda starts at 16:26.  Thanks for the music!

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Lots of great ideas, no doubt this is one of the best modern piano concertos I have heard so far. I'm really happy to see more and more people interested in a more tonal and classical style of composition.  

Also for your age that's an outstanding piece of music.

Edited by Ivan1791
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First of all, thank you @Ivan1791 @PaperComposer and @Eickso for taking the time to comment this piece. This is so meaningful and helpful for a composer to receive feedbacks and advice, I appreciate that. 

@Eickso : I'm very glad you managed to listen to the entire piece, I know it can be scary when such a large composition is in front of you. As far as the lenght of this movement is concerned, I think exactly like you for other compositions. I often compose piano piece that don't exceed 5 minutes because I feel I expressed what I had to say, and it's no need to compose more. But this is a piano concerto and not only I had there A LOT of ideas and themes to express and expose but also I had to respect the sonata form for such a composition. I think I'll write another comment to give the structure of the movement because I know that it can appear too long and with no logic ! In the past, I've already composed such movements that didn't exceed 9 minutes and it was right because it was in a classical style (such as Mozart's or Haydn's concertos). But there I feel I had to go further and I can assure you I wasn't in the "just keep going" mentality you mentionned before (although I know exactly what you mean and I respect your opinion about it because I know some young composers that composed ~30 minutes long movement !!). In other words, I know that it can seem long but actually, it's not that long for a romantic piano concerto ! Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and others did much longer. Furthermore, I already know that the 2 next movements won't be that long as they only be a slow movement and a rondo. When it comes to the Rachmaninoff's similarities, I can tell you I wasn't inspired at all by his 2nd concerto (neither in the form nor the themes...). In my opinion, as Rach is one of my fav, his music is so IN me that some similarities are reflected in my music. I take your remark well because it's always a compliment to hear that this concerto could be a Rach ! In fact this is the inconvenience of being a young composer, I might know the music rules and theorie but my style is still evolving and your mind see a Rachmaninoff where it's a Camille ahah ! By the way, I'll listen to the composition you mentioned, and it would be a pleasure to penpal you, I could give you my Instagram to talk ahah !

@PaperComposer : Thanks for your comment ! You did well to listen again without the score. It allows, I think, to be more focused on the melody and the logic behind the movement. I know it can be dreadful for some composers to put arpeggios because it's the easiest way for the piano to accompany the orchestra, but I always thought that arpeggios had their place in a concerto at certain times. I find it beautiful and helpful for the pianist because it's, in a way, relaxing and a break before going on a melody. At 7:02, these octaves-arpeggios are based on the motif of the first subject. At that very moment the music reaches a climax that allowed me to put octaves (you're right, it's time to the soloist to shine !! Octaves are a great way to highlight virtuosity in piano concerto, especially with a speed that high). The flute melody after the real cadenza is a reminiscence of the first subject of the B theme (the slow one). It permits a good transition to the closing episode of the development with a statement of the second theme (follow by the reexposition). If this reminds you Rachmaninoff, this wasn't on purpose. As I said before, I'll do a description of the design of the movement ! 🙂 Thanks again for listening, I'm glad you appreciated the music. 

@Ivan1791  I am, too, really happy that people are getting more and more attracted again by tonal music. I'm so pleased you think it's a good piano concerto. Thanks for your support!

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Camille,

Thanks for writing back. I actually listened through your piece all the way through again because, sleeping on it, I thought it was really cool. Took some time during my break at work to listen with headphones and I have a much greater appreciation for it. The time is still long enough that at points I check to see how much is left, but I think I only checked like... 3-4 times? It was very engaging, and the ending (yesterday too) leaves me with goosebumps.

To go deeper into the Rach 2 comment, I don’t really know much about structure and I know you didn’t take his themes. But, what I meant was the feelings and orchestration and way you build to moments (especially those first few minutes) REALLY reminds me of it. In the way that I said, it really feels like I’m listening to like, his 5th piano concerto. There are also other spots that sound similar to his rhapsody on a theme of paganini. Anyways, finding that inner voice of taking your next steps into your personalized style is difficult and it is awesome you are getting there. This work is a great example of you, and I can’t truly say to you what I mean by finding your own style because this might be it already! I’m lucky enough to say I have found my composing style at my age...

What sounds are these, though?!

I’ll dm you my instagram I’d love to talk.

-Evan

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  • 5 months later...

Hi everyone, I wrote a structure plan of the movement for the listener to better understand the concerto so far (I know, it's been 6 months lol). Check out the original post ! 🙂 

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Nice Camfrtt, very accomplished. For me personally I feel you could simplify things, and be a bit melodically clearer. Reminds me of opening theme Rach 1, orchestral writing very well balanced. Well done! Lovely to listen to.

Mike

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