Concerto for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord in E-flat Major
Maria Hester Park (1760-1813) was an English composer and teacher. Not much information is available about her early life, but she appeared in harpsichord and piano concerts before she married Thomas Park. She was active in composition from about 1795 to 1811.
The Concerto for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord in E-flat Major is Park’s Op. 6, published and sold by the music seller to Her Highness the Duchess of York. The Concerto is scored for violins 1 and 2, viola, violincello/bass. However, the Concerto was written so that, if necessary, the performer could play the orchestra reduction as well as the solo passages. In this version, the orchestra opens with an Allegro movement with a strong pulsing theme; this is followed by a solo passage foreshadowing the melodic second theme. The orchestra comes in on the dominant, and the usual interweaving of the themes follows. In typical concerto style, the final statement in the first movement is preceded by a cadenza improvised by the performers.
The charming Andante in B-flat major is a short continuous movement which provides a contrast between the faster outer movements; it ends on a dominant seventh chord which is quickly resolved in the opening of the Rondo Presto. This five-movement final movement begins with a light-hearted, rollicking rondo in 6/8 meter. The second part features the solo with its characteristic sixteenth notes and horn calls by the orchestra. The fourth part is an intense, dramatic solo in the relative minor. This long episode has a sixteenth-note Alberti bass; it showcases Park’s virtuosic writing and wit. The horn calls, reminiscent of the second section, and a flourish herald the return of the rondo theme.