I really do love all the major concertos; at competitions, I’m happy to listen to the same piece multiple times in a row. But today’s focus isn’t the Sibelius, Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky – it’s the Dream Concerto, the longed-for piece that feels especially personal. Here are a few of mine:
I always come back to these pieces, but still, it wasn’t until I typed the list that I realized that extent of my bias for English and Central European composers. Also, I've never consciously thought of preferring early 20th-century music, but all of these works were written in a 33-year period, from 1908 (Bartók) to 1940 (Britten).
In fact, having a Dream Concerto (or six) can be informative and inspiring. I encourage my students to tell me about the pieces they fantasize about playing; selecting a piece, even if it’s something as ubiquitous as the Mendelssohn concerto, makes it their special music, which guides what we learn now. To prepare for the concerto, for example, we can study Mendelssohn song transcriptions, a similarly flavored but easier student concerto in the same key (such as the Sitt), and maybe the Mendelssohn D Minor, if they like it. In the same way, even though I'll probably never solo with either of the Szymanowski concertos, I can still study them on my own and perform a smaller work by the same composer at the next faculty recital I play – both activities that will improve my playing.
What’s your dream concerto?