PIANIST KIRILL GERSTEIN PERFORMS 1879 VERSION OF TCHAIKOVSKY’S FIRST PIANO CONCERTO WITH THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, FEBRUARY 2-4 & 7; Conducted by Semyon Bychkov as part of Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival

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PIANIST KIRILL GERSTEIN PERFORMS 1879 VERSION OF TCHAIKOVSKY’S FIRST PIANO CONCERTO WITH THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, FEBRUARY 2-4 & 7

Conducted by Semyon Bychkov as part of
Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (December 20, 2016) — Pianist Kirill Gerstein continues to champion Tchaikovsky’s own final version of the First Piano Concerto in four performances with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, on Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 PM; Friday, February 3 at 11:00 AM; Saturday, February 4 at 8:00 PM; and Tuesday, February 7 at 7:30 PM. The performances will mark the first time this 1879 version will be heard in New York since Tchaikovsky himself conducted it for the 1891 opening of Carnegie Hall. The concerts also feature Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony and are part of Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival (January 24–February 11), the New York Philharmonic and Mr. Bychkov’s three-week festival of orchestral, chamber, and vocal programs that explore music by Tchaikovsky and composers who influenced or were influenced by him.

Tickets starting at $31 are available at nyphil.org/tchaikovsky, the David Geffen Hall Box Office, or by calling 212-875-5656.

In concert and on record, Mr. Gerstein has been the leading advocate for Tchaikovsky’s 1879 revision of the First Piano Concerto, which is the final version of the concerto authorized and conducted by the composer. Mr. Gerstein said, “Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto is one of the most famous pieces in classical music. Surprisingly, the … version of the concerto that has prevailed in the last hundred years of performances is one that Tchaikovsky neither approved nor conducted himself.” Mr. Gerstein performs the 1879 version from a 2015 critical urtext edition published by the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin (Moscow) drawing upon the latest musicological research and the composer’s own conducting score from his last public concert. The Beloved Friend concerts will mark the New York premiere of this edition. In addition to performing and recording the 1879 version, Mr. Gerstein has also explored the topic of this concerto and its history of revision in an article for The New York Review of Books, “The Real Tchaikovsky.”

Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto exists in three versions. Despite negative criticism from pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky had the first version of the concerto published in 1875. The second version, performed by Mr. Gerstein, incorporated small practical adjustments to the piano part made by Tchaikovsky. It was used by the composer in subsequent performances including on tour during his only visit to America in 1891, which comprised the Carnegie Hall opening in New York, as well as concerts in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC, and in 1893 at the last concert he conducted when he paired the Piano Concerto with the world premiere of his Pathétique Symphony. Tchaikovsky died within days of this performance, and the third version of the concerto was published a year after his death. According to Mr. Gerstein, it “contains a number of editorial changes that differ from the text of Tchaikovsky’s own score, were not authorized by him and made posthumously.”

Illustrating some of the most noticeable differences, Mr. Gerstein describes the familiar chords of the piano’s first entrance as they appear in the second version: “every second and third beat is arpeggiated, thus giving the melody a more differentiated and flexible metric impulse which alters the way the orchestra plays the theme of the introduction.” As Mr. Gerstein explains there are many examples of different dynamics and articulations in Tchaikovsky’s own version that point to “a more lyrical and Schumannesque conception of the piece.” Mr. Gerstein’s performances also restore a cut traditionally made in the middle of the third movement which destabilized the structural balance of the movement in the third version. “In summary, the editorial changes made to the third version added a flavor of superficial brilliance to the piece which at the same time took away from its genuine musical character. The new edition allows us to turn back to Tchaikovsky’s original intentions.”

Mr. Gerstein was granted special pre-publication access to the new edition for his world premiere recording with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conducted by James Gaffigan. The recording, which also includes Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, was released by Myrios Classics in March 2015 and won the ECHO Klassik Award for “Concerto Recording of the Year.” Since the recording release, Mr. Gerstein has performed this version of the concerto around the world, including with the Czech, London, and St. Petersburg Philharmonics, and at the BBC Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He gave the concert premiere with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2015 and the US premiere in August 2016 with Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra.

In addition to the New York and St. Petersburg Philharmonic concerts, Mr. Gerstein’s 2016-17 season includes performances of the 1879 version of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester, Naples Philharmonic, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Netherlands), and the Atlanta, Danish National, and Detroit symphony orchestras. In October 2016, he performed Tchaikovsky’s Second and Third Piano Concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra as part of Mr. Bychkov’s Beloved Friend series in London. Mr. Gerstein returns to the New York Philharmonic after his 2015 performance of Brahms’s First Piano Concerto, conducted by Susanna Mälkki.

Kirill Gerstein is one of today’s most intriguing and versatile musicians, with a masterful technique, discerning intelligence, and a musical curiosity that has led him to explore repertoire spanning centuries and a diverse range of styles. He is the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award and received First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. Highlights of Mr. Gerstein’s US season include concerto performances with the Cleveland Orchestra; New York Philharmonic; and Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New Jersey, San Diego, and St. Louis Symphonies. He performs works by Bartók, Busoni, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg, and Tchaikovsky, among others. In recital this season, Mr. Gerstein performs Liszt’s complete Transcendental Etudes in Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, DC. His recent recording of the etudes was released by Myrios Classics on September 9. Born in Voronezh, Russia, Mr. Gerstein attended a music school for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. He came to the US at the age of 14 to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music and, after completing his studies in three years, moved to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany.

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Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 3 at 11 a.m.
Saturday, February 4 at 8 p.m.
Tuesday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m.
David Geffen Hall

Kirill Gerstein, Piano
Semyon Bychkov, Conductor
New York Philharmonic

TCHAIKOVSKY  Piano Concerto No. 1 (New York premiere of urtext edition of 1879 version of the score)
TCHAIKOVSKY  Manfred Symphony

Tickets starting at $31 are available at nyphil.org/tchaikovsky, the David Geffen Hall Box Office, or by calling 212-875-5656.

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