Seattle Symphony to premiere Shaw’s “Watermark,” based on Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto

Posted on: February 1, 2019

“Composers since the dawn of composing have used existing music as raw material for their own,” writes Gavin Borchert in Wednesday’s (1/30) Seattle Weekly. “Very few composers do this as deftly or satisfyingly as Caroline Shaw…. Shaw’s latest, Watermark for piano and orchestra, takes Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto as a source. At the work’s Seattle Symphony world premiere this weekend, the SSO and pianist Jonathan Biss will play the two side by side. Ludovic Morlot will also conduct Shostakovich’s First Symphony.… Shaw: There are several sections of this concerto where I start with the texture of the Beethoven concertos, where you have running 16th notes in the strings and the bass line is kind of a particular way, and woodwind chords above. Q: That reminds me of Beethoven’s sketchbooks. Shaw: Definitely. Even the title … is a reference to the field of musicology that studies the watermarks of the manuscript paper for dating. Q: The idea of basing a piece on Beethoven’s Third was your idea? Shaw: No, it was Jonathan [Biss]’s idea. It was a perfect match—part of a project where’s he’s commissioned five new piano concertos, each paired with the five Beethovens. This is the fourth one.”

Posted February 1, 2019