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Work of the Week – Andrew Norman: Split


Andrew Norman rounds out a busy year with the world premiere of his new piano concerto Split on 10 December 2015 with the New York Philharmonic. The work was written especially for virtuoso pianist Jeffrey Kahane, who will perform the premiere at David Geffen Hall under the baton of James Gaffigan.

The new concerto marks his sophomore effort of works for piano and orchestra, following the successful premiere of Suspend in May of 2014 with Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic and pianist Emanuel Ax. Split is a 25-minute tour-de-force in one movement. In approaching the piece, Norman was inspired by “the wit, vitality, and expressive character” of Kahane’s playing. It also takes on a mischievous theme between the soloist and orchestra:

I started with the idea of casting Jeffrey as a mercurial trickster, wreaking havoc in and among the various sections of the orchestra, but as the piece progressed he became less the prankster and more the pranked, an unwitting protagonist trapped in a Rube Goldbergian labyrinth of causes and effects who tries, with ever greater desperation, to find his way out of the madness and on to some peaceful plane. – Andrew Norman

Split was composed alongside another large-scale concerto, Switch, for percussion and orchestra, which was hailed as “hyperkinetic” and “an instant hit” (The Salt Lake Tribune) following its premiere last month with Colin Currie and the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Switch receives its UK premiere on 11 December 2015 with Currie joining the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Barbican Hall, conducted by Sakari Oramo.

photo: © Timothy Andres / photo ed