Urban gardens (2012-2022)

for piano quartet

Listen to the Piano and orchestra version: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

This work is inspired by the urban gardens that are becoming a new, exciting presence in our cities. In such a setting I imagined the piano as an urban memory, not forgetting its standard uses (in the classical music, in jazz, in pop music), and the string instruments as a green, vegetal presence that surrounds it. Doing that, I created in my mind three special places in which each movement develops.

Indeed, the first is idealistically put “On a concert hall rooftop” – where some echoes of great piano concertos of the past come visit the piano part (not their actual notes, rhythms or sounds, but just far memories of themselves), whereas the other instruments are agitated by the pressure of plants that are growing up, by seeds that are unfolding and vegetables that are expanding.

The second movement is imagined to be “In a jazz club courtyard”, where the piano, in the original version for piano and orchestra, is surrounded mostly by winds, brass and percussions instruments (in this version: the strings). In the main theme there is something resembling a blues-style ballad, but there are other different elements part of the movement, including a variation, where the piano part is in toccata style. The peculiar ability of jazz to devour and transform everything is evoked in the final section: the piano presents some mini quotes of jazzed-up classical repertoire and the dialog between the two worlds is strongly interlaced.

The third movement has its origins in an urban garden created “On a studio terrace”, and the general form, the musical materials, and some specific instrumental solutions are inspired by recording and editing in a studio. Probably our imaginary plants are now big and strong, because their sound is full of energy and rhythm, and if you think you’re listening to a tomato or to some string beans ready to be gathered you’re not completely wrong.


pno, vl, va, vc


alternative version:
solo piano – –  perc. (1) – strings


Duration 20′

Published by
Breitkopf & Härtel
EB 9452

July 28, 2023