Richard Strauss’ “Burleske” for Piano and Orchestra, opus 5‏

by richibi

when I mentioned to my friend that we had now heard
concertos from individually all the solo instruments
featured in the Beethoven Triple Concerto I pointed
out that therefore any instrument of course could be
central to a concerto, could it stand the virtuosity  
and the strain 

drums came up, sure, I said, should someone write
such a concerto, would drummers, a less melodic
group, be interested, I know of no drum concertos  

but I could not exclude the evidence of an unforgettable 
tour de force, in a piece for primarily orchestra and piano
but with a significant and magnificent timpani obbligato
here and there interjecting, for their unqualified claim to
musical validity, we are all invited, the message is clear,  
to the song
it is a piece by the evidently iconoclastic Richard Strauss,
not either of the Johanns, neither father nor son, but
Richard, a later, unrelated personality, with a few
indisputable masterpieces of his own
there are all the requisite instruments here, orchestra,
commanding piano, but this is not a concerto for having
only one segment of music, it’s given therefore another
identifying name, in such cases often its very definition,
here we have a burlesque, you’ll hear Strauss riff on that
particular topic, his idea of what is a burlesque, other
riffs by others might be called a waltz, a nocturne, an
adagio, until the more pragmatic preponderance of
titles – the “Emperor” Concerto, for instance, or Strauss’
own symphonic poems, “Death and Transfiguration”, 
Also Sprach Zarathustra“, after Friedrich Nietzsche’s
seminal mystic text – came about, that very process of
designation something again of a Straussian advance   

the “Burleske”, as they would have it, for Piano and
Orchestra, opus 5, is an early work, as evidenced by
the opus number, by, it would appear, an irreverent
upstart, impetuous, explosive, even the introduction
itself of a central timpani would’ve been musically
unheard of, revolutionary at the time, he was 
breaking all the rules  
but he did so outstandingly, authoritatively, the next
step could conceivably be a drum concerto, who knows  
this is not Classical music then, not at all meant for
an aristocracy, this is nearly no longer even Romantic,
this is 1885 to 1886, this is looking straight into the  
future, the upheavals of our very own recent and,
prophetically, tumultuous early Twentieth Century 
even beyond 
ask Ringo Starr
or still any serious drummer
Martha Argerich at the pedal does the work absolutely
no harm, leaves it glistening, pristine and irrepressible