Laura Netzel (1839−1927)

Concerto pour piano avec accompagnement d'Orchestre

opus 84

  • Work category: Piano and orchestra
  • Dedication: 'dédié à Monsieur Lucien Wevionser [?]'
  • Duration: Approx. 25-30 min

Instrumentation / / timp, hp / str

  • Location autograph: Musik- och teaterbiblioteket
  • Possible call no. and autograph comment: Score, Series I 4861

Description of work

[I] Allegro moderato E minor - F-sharp major - E minor 4/4 (C)
II Lento A-flat major - E major - A-flat major 3/4
III Presto E mino alla breve [unfinished]

Work comment

Laura Netzel's Piano Concerto was her greatest effort in orchestral music. Exactly when the work was composed remains somewhat uncertain. According to contemporary documents, the concerto, or perhaps just the last movement, was played in 1897 in Paris and in 1898 in Berlin. These performances featured a version for two pianos. A piano concerto with orchestra is also mentioned among her works in Svensk musiktidning ('Swedish Music Journal') in 1897.

However, Netzel did not complete the orchestral version of her concerto. In the available sources, the last movement abruptly ends after 210 measures. To these, Klas Gagge, in his edition of the work, added 24 measures that Netzel had previously sketched, but after that the flow of the music simply breaks off. (The version for two pianos that was played at the 1897 and 1898 concerts has never been found.) Two proposed endings were composed in 2020, one by Peter Friis Johansson and one by Petteri Nieminen.

The Piano part is characterised throughout the concerto by technical brilliance and an effective and idiomatic style of writing. The dialogue between soloist and orchestra is well fashioned. The winds are not utilised quite to the extent one might have imagined, considering Netzel's affinity for the French tradition, where winds often play a relatively independent role. The Harp seconds the piano part in an unusual way, primarily in the first two movements.

The first movement starts off with effervescent arpeggios that reappear throughout the entire concerto. They are soon followed by a lyrical theme, which is allowed to dominate the movement, although dramatic build-ups do occur.
After the first movement in e minor, there is a Lento movement in a harmonically remote A-flat major, with an interlude in E major. Here, too, a lyrical melody prevails in a sustained cantilena, which is interrupted by greater drama and grand pianistic gestures.

In the concluding e-minor movement, a tarantella-like theme soon takes over the movement, although it is contrasted with other motifs. The reappearances of earlier themes from the concerto that we hear in the recorded versions are not from Netzel's hand but rather belong to the sections added afterward.

© Anders Edling, Levande musikarv
Trans. Donald McQueen