The Concert for piano and Orchestra Op.20, by António Victorino D’Almeida constitutes the composer’s first symphonic work, written at the age of 19 while he was still a student at the Lisbon’s National Conservatory.
In many ways, the Concert reflected a rebellious attitude towards a composition teaching system that to the young musician seemed exceedingly orthodox, and thus unsuited, regarding the natural ambitions of a composer of his time.
The twentieth century was extremely rich in aesthetical options and, in 1959, António Victorino D’Almeida wasn’t yet aware of the principles defended by the Second Viennese School, the city where shortly after he would end up living, for 23 years, and whose expressionist principles would deeply mark subsequent phases - though not definitely - in the production of the Portuguese composer.
The Concert for piano and Orchestra is very much in line with the authors that, at the time, Victorino D’Almeida probably knew best - Stravinsky, Prokofiev or even Darius Milhaud - considering that occasional clarinet or trombone glissandi aren’t sufficient for an immediate identification of an alleged Gershwin influence, as it tends to commonly happen ...
Being a pianist – and in 1959, the time of the writing of the work, a soloist with a promising career - it is only natural that the writing of this Concert be particularly complex, regarding the instrument that performs the solo, with very virtuosistic passages, namely in the cadences present in the three movements, no doubt difficult to perform, but always pianistic .
Formally, the first movement still follows several traditional rules of the sonata form, even though the reexposition can only be regarded as authentic in what concerns the second theme, very melodic in character and with some abstract popular roots.It can be said that, replacing the reexposition there is a long coda, based in variations over the two main themes.
In the second movement, the formula A+B+A is in a way flagrant, notwithstanding there is a passage that uses thematic material from the cadence.
The third movement branches off from a changed quotation of the work’s inital theme to a succession of contrasting situations – though not exactly rapsodic -, ending in an agitated rhythm, somewhat shaped by brazilian characteristics that could evoke a bit of Milhaud‘s aesthetics .