Where can I find piano adaptations of classical concertos?

In most classical concertos, there’s one pianist, and they’re backed by a symphony.

As a child, I used to play these concertos, but I didn’t have access to a symphony. I only had a piano teacher, who would play an adaptation of the symphony part.

Where can I find recorded performances of classical concertos in which the symphony is replaced by a second pianist? I can only find recorded performances of master pianists playing with some bigshot symphony.

Why do you think such recordings would exist? Why would somebody be interested in listening to a recording where the intended orchestra is replaced a vastly inferior substitute?

But they do. I found this page which has a link to a large Spotify playlist of piano transcriptions of orchestral works—though I don’t see many concertos, specifically, on the list.

Because the OP is probably not the only person who is interested in this?

Or, for that matter, piano teachers?

I sell (among other things) sheet music on my Amazon account, and I have many pieces that are adaptations, from beginner to advanced levels, of this kind of thing, usually for 4 hands.

Huh? Of course the sheet music exists, for people to play them. But OP is asking about commercial recordings of two pianos playing a concerto.

A great pianist playing (say) a piano transcription of a Beethoven symphony is an interesting proposition. But a great pianist playing the piano part of a concerto, while another pianist (instead of an orchestra) plays the orchestral part? Not so much, I think.

Well to me it’s just another way to enjoy the music. It’s like a remix, almost. I don’t think that a piano transcription of a symphony is necessarily inferior, although that does seem to be the consensus, given the complete lack of such recordings. Also, it would be interesting if such recordings were more widespread–I’d be curious to listen to how editors distill an orchestra to 88 keys. There would likely be some variation among editors in how they choose to adapt. Okay, let me stop–I’m getting the sense that some posters were are reacting to my wish the same way someone would react to a person requesting an 8 kbps version of a track when full-fidelity, lossless FLAC files are readily available.

You can sometimes find them on YouTube—primarily student performances.

A few examples I turned up:

Schumann - Piano Concerto in A minor

Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1

Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2

Commercial recordings of two-piano concerto arrangements are vanishingly rare. Here’s one example I found: Grieg’s Piano Concerto played by two pianists. Note that it’s described as the “premiere recording” of the arrangement! I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a handful of similarly-obscure examples out there, but I can’t recall seeing any others. The demand just isn’t there. Concertos are all about the interplay and contrast between the soloist and the orchestra, and a two-piano arrangement tends to dilute that contrast.

Thanks for the links. I appreciate the research. I wonder how these concertos were played in the old days, you know, like when they were written. I can’t imagine that everyone back then who played the piano had access to an orchestra. Then again, you didn’t really play music back then unless you were some bigshot court appointed musician or some rich guy with nothing better to do…so, are piano adaptations of concertos a modern phenomenon??

In the old days, they were performed with a piano playing in front of an orchestra. :wink: Keep in mind, concertos are usually not something that every Average Joe can play, they require skill and technique only few players have. People (who were wealthy enough to afford a piano) did of course play music in their homes, but more likely sonatas or other pieces more suited to their talents. Also, you will need two pianos to play a concerto (doesn’t work on one piano with two players without disfiguring the piano part), and who’s got two pianos sitting around their living room? On the other hand, those adaptions were the only way to get acquainted with a specific work, lacking a performance you can go to, so piano reductions of operas, oratorios and the like have been around for a very long time. However, if you’re a very serious musician, you might be able to play a symphony straight from the score, eliminating the need for an adaption in the first place.

Say what? You mean that some people can just look at the symphony score and play it on the piano on the fly??

Missed the 5 minute edit window…but I found these:


Probably a heretical opinion, but I prefer the two pianos versus the piano + orchestra. The simplicity of the piano adaptation is its defining feature--it's elegant.

Someone like Franz Liszt might be able to. I suspect that very few mere mortals could.

Exactly correct. No better or worse than the orchestral arrangement- just different. I often find two-piano reductions much more interesting.

Just as much, I think.

To you, maybe. But the relative numbers of commercial recordings would suggest that your view is atypical.

Most definitely. I can’t, but a lot of conductors or accompanists at opera houses all over can do it. It will always depend a bit on the type of work (a Haydn symphony will be „easy“, a big piece by a late romantic composer maybe harder), and there will be some minor parts missing, but people do it. It is by no means a unique ability. Believe it or not, some people „read“ music as well, meaning they read the score and hear it in their heads. I actually had classes in „score reading and playing“ in university, but all the transposing instruments and different clefs really threw me off, and I never gained much proficiency.

Rawicz and Landauer used to make a thing out of arranging and playing concert pieces arranged for two pianos, and timed to fit on one side of a 78rpm record. They were very popular in their day.

Not really; a lot of those arrangements were published in the 19th century. Some composers (Liszt, for example) even did the arrangements themselves.

I’ve only seen these two-piano versions of concertos performed in college and university recitals, but things were different in the days before recorded music. It would be interesting to see a historical study of how often, and under what circumstances, these arrangements have been publicly performed. That would be a good thesis or dissertation project for somebody!

So what? It isn’t atypical in this thread, about where one can find such recordings, your outspoken disdain notwithstanding.