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About this Piece

Composed: 2014-2015
Length: c. 25 minutes
Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (2nd = English horn), 2 clarinets (2nd = E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, tam-tam, anvil, tom-toms, castanets, cowbell, tambourine, wood block, glockenspiel), celesta, strings, and two solo pianos
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances (world premiere)

The Double Piano Concerto was composed for the Labèque Sisters in the Fall and Winter of 2014-2015. It was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will receive its world premiere in Los Angeles in May of the year 2015. The Orchestre de Paris, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, Göteborgs Symfoniker, and Orquesta Nacional de España are all co-commissioners and will be presenting their own premieres in their home cities in the coming year.

Like many people involved in today’s music, I have long been an admirer of Katia and Marielle Labèque’s performance of traditional and new concert music for duo pianos. I was very happy to hear their brilliant playing and interpretative skills with my own music – first with the 2007 work Four Movements for Two Pianos and then, more recently, the Two Movements for Four Pianos. This last work was premiered by the Labèques along with additional pianists Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa. I was very pleased when they suggested a new work – the present Double Concerto.

The work itself follows the three-movement form in which many concertos are conceived. However, in this case the first and second movements are both fast and the slow movement is the third and last part of the Concerto. 

Also it seemed that there were enough “fireworks” in the first two movements as to make an additional cadenza for the soloists unnecessary.

Again the relationship of the soloist to the orchestra is not the usual one, contrasting the smaller duo with the larger orchestral ensemble. Instead the music of the soloists is shared between the two and the orchestra serves to extend the range and color of the soloists. 

Finally, in the last few years I have had the pleasure of working with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on projects very important to myself. This included a live performance of Koyaanisqatsi at the Hollywood Bowl as well as the West Coast premiere of my Symphony No. 9, conducted by John Adams.  I look forward with great pleasure to working with them again.

— Philip Glass