Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, opus 18 reduction for two pianos

Rena KyriakouNikos (transcription) Poulakis
€ 35,00   € 31,50 Discount price

Reduction for Two Pianos

The name of Rena Kyriakou (1917-1994) is mainly associated with her high-standard interpretations as a pianist, both at concerts in Greece, Europe and America and in recordings of works by FelixMendelssohn-Bartholdy (his complete piano works), Antonio Soler, John Field, Emmanuel Chabrier, Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados et al., which were either unknown or neglected in the middle of the 20th century. Her activity as a composer, however, remains little known, despite the fact that it formed an integral part of her studies and also of the dawn of her long artistic career, from the early 1920s (at the age of five) to the early 1940s. In the Rena Kyriakou Archive, 75 complete works are survived, most of them for solo piano, but also few songs for voice and piano, pieces for chamber music ensemble, for harmonium, as well as her only concerto for piano and orchestra. The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,opus 18 / ΑΚΣΡΚ 74, stands out among her works as the most extensive and ambitious, constituting at the same time the crowning achievement and the (abrupt) ending of her career as a composer. The information regarding its dating is somewhat vague: in the recently compiled “List of Compositions by Rena Kyriakou”, 1943 is given as the year of composition;5 yet, according to the unsigned note in the concert programme of the work’s premiere, it “was written in 1938-1940”, while Rena Kyriakou herself, in an interview with journalist Nikos Th. Synadinos in 1939, states the following: “I am planning, or – if you insist – I have written the first and second movements of a concerto for piano and orchestra. All of it is planned. Only the last movement needs polishing”. We may conclude, therefore, that the concerto was indeed composed between the years 1938 and 1940, essentially, though the full score may have been completed in the following years and especially in 1943, before the first public performance of the work.
The first performance of Rena Kyriakou’s Piano Concertotook place on 19 December 1943, in the frame of the concert programme series of the Athens State Orchestra for the 1943-1944 season, given at the “Pallas” Theatre, under the baton of Theodoros Vavayannis (1905-1988) and with the composer as soloist. It was greeted as the first concerto by a Greek woman composer and was warmly received by the audience, but not by the critics and especially the female music critics, who drew attention – in a series of reviews in the daily press of the time – to the huge distance that they perceived between the undeniable skill of Rena Kyriakou as a performer and her strongly questionable ability as a composer, the stylistic, structural and formal vagueness of the work, the absence of inspired melodic ideas, of rhythmic variety, of satisfactory thematic development and coherence, and the almost total failure to set off the sound of the solo instrument against that of the orchestra. In any case, the style of the concerto was definitely too daring for Athens audiences of the early 1940s, while the subsequent utter disappearance of the work from Greek concert halls must be attributed to a variety of additional factors. There is evidence, however, of another performance of the work in Switzerland, at a concert of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande given on 14 April 1954 in Geneva, under the baton of Jean Meylan (1915-1994) and with the composer again at the piano.
The present edition of the concerto is an attempt to save it from oblivion and to conduce towards a new, modern and fuller – as far as possible – appreciation of the work itself and of the contribution of Rena Kyriakou as a composer in general.
Ioannis Fulias


Κέντρο Ελληνικής Μουσικής