I believe that writing a traditional concerto today has no meaning. There is no longer a way to establish a homogeneity of meaning between one or more soloists and a mass of musicians of different density or nature – such as existed in Baroque, Classical, and Romantic concertos, when the “individual” and the “mass” could practically say the same thing despite their completely different densities and acoustic characters. Today the relationship between soloist and orchestra is a problem that must ever be solved anew, and the word concerto can be taken only as a metaphor. The problem of soloists, however, has always interested me; I have confronted it on many occasions trying to solve it from different angles: with Tempi concertati (1958-1959), for instance, for flute, violin, piano and four orchestral groups, with Chemins I (1965) for harp and orchestra, with Chemins III (1968) for viola and orchestra.
This Concerto, for two pianos and orchestra could equally well have been called Concerti (concertos), since the soloists develops mobile, diversified, and very unstable relationships between themselves and with the soloists of the orchestra, often creating chamber ensembles (piano I and II, flute and piano I, violin and piano II, clarinet and piano I, piano II and strings, etc.); sometimes the orchestra interacts with the soloists, amplifying their parts in a kind of simultaneous transcription. The two soloists are also diversified in terms of different piano techniques and different degrees of identification with the orchestra however, behind all these differences lies a unifying harmonic process: it is revealed at the beginning of Concerto by the two pianos alone, almost like a map consulted before starting a journey.
Concerto was premiered in March 1973 by Bruno Canino and Antonio Ballista with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Pierre Boulez.