Concertino 3×3

Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Freeman

Hungarian-American composer Tibor Serly is remembered mostly as the man who completed Bartók’s Viola Concerto. But he was an engaging composer in his own right. Serly further refined the symmetry and parallelism in Bartók’s middle period works—such as the Violin Concerto No.2 and the Fourth String Quartet—into a comprehensive compositional system he called modus lascivus that rivals dodecaphony in its organicism while still remaining fundamentally consonant. Serly’s 1965 Concertino 3×3 is the bizarrest of piano concertos. For each of the three movements, the material is presented first by solo piano, then the orchestra, and finally with the two in combination. While this might sound overly didactic, this form of presentation allows the listener into the compositional process offering a clarity of musical language only to be superseded by the advent of musical minimalism among subsequent generations of composers.

—FJO