Laurent Beeckmans' completion of Grieg's b minor concerto
Laurent Beeckmans' b minor piano concerto
This work was written in 1997 for the Third International Competition for Composers organised by the Oslo Grieg Society.
Edvard Grieg wrote his famous piano concerto in A minor in 1868, at the age of 25. Later he started working on a second piano concerto in B minor. This work was never finished and only the sketches reproduced in the previous article remain.
The object of the competition was to write a work for piano and orchestra including elements from these sketches, freely adapted. In my contribution, I nevertheless tried to respect the style and the harmonic and melodic idioms so typical of the great Norwegian master, as well as to make the widest use of the thematic material he left behind.
The Concerto in B minor is in one large movement in sonata form, where an adagio, a scherzo and a cadenza take the place of the customary development.
There are many links with the work of Grieg: the adagio in G major is reminiscent of the string writing in the Holberg Suite and the scherzo is inspired by the numerous pieces in which Grieg depicted the trolls, those legendary inhabitants of the Norwegian mountains. At the midst of this scherzo, a folk-like section features a mock springar (a Norwegian folkdance in ¾) which is reminiscent of the piano writing of the Slåtter op.72.
Lastly, there are also many links with the A minor Concerto itself, e.g. the same instrumentation, the opening timpani roll and the climactic recapitulation of the main theme at the end of the work.
The Concerto in B minor was first performed on the 3rd May 2003 at St James, Piccadilly, London by Laurent Beeckmans and the orchestra I Maestri conducted by Thomas Kemp.
Quite a coïncidence, this happened at the same date and almost at the same location than Grieg's performance in 1888 of his own piano concerto. This was his first appearance in England, exactly 115 years before!
The second performance was at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels on the 7th November 2003 by Laurent Beeckmans and the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles conducted by Jacques Vanherenthals.
More performances are scheduled for the centenary year 2007, in Belgium, France and especially in Germany at the Festival Nordische Musik where during a week the whole instrumental music of Grieg will be performed over 8 concerts.
For those reading the norwegian language, see also the four following reviews that appeared on the culture site Kulturspeilet
Review of the Brussels' concert (June 2004)
Interview of Laurent Beeckmans in Oslo (July 2004)