The Front Row: 42nd Annual Scholarship Concert pt. 2

Apr 24, 2018

Saturday night the Texas Tech School of Music is presenting the 42nd Annual Scholarship Concert. Dr. William Westney shares more about this event on the second part of this two-part episode of The Front Row.

One of the big pieces is the second of the four Rachmaniov concert, which you will be playing. Tell us a little of your history with this concerto.

Well first as a listener, I think it’s one of those pieces where the first time you hear it you feel like you understand it completely on first hearing, and it seems inevitable, like everything that happens in that piece just had to be that way. It makes such an impact on you, it’s so thrilling. The thrilling nature of it never fades over time. To me, it’s the best of his piano concertos. It’s one of the real pinnacles of piano repertoire. Why do I say that? Because of the emotionally-charged and transporting impact that it has, and the thrill of how the orchestra and the piano interact. I have played it before with an orchestra, but it’s probably been 30 years since I’ve done that. To come back to it is really meaningful to me and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to play it on this great occasion.

…One of the thrills for me is that, the way I was taught to play concertos, way back when I got started with this stuff, it’s really sort of like the pianist is the protagonist in this drama. You’re not opposed to the orchestra, but you vying with the orchestra in a fascinating way all the time. So the orchestration is powerful, but you get your moments to emerge and say what you want to say and there are these indescribable parts to this piece that we just live for as pianists. The orchestra swells in this great wave of sound and you just feel like you’re literally riding the crest of this sonic wave. I cannot describe how incredible that is.

Listen to the full interview at the top of the article.