KIRILL GERSTEIN MAKES FIRST RECORDING OF TCHAIKOVSKY’S
PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 IN COMPOSER’S OWN 1879 VERSION OF THE SCORE
Recording also includes Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by James Gaffigan
NEW YORK, NY (March 5, 2015)—Kirill Gerstein’s first orchestral recording, to be released in the US by Myrios Classics on Tuesday, March 10, marks the world premiere recording of the 1879 version of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto. Based on the latest musicological research and Tchaikovsky’s own conducting score from his last public concert, a new critical Urtext edition will be published in 2015 by the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin (Moscow) in association with Tchaikovsky’s 175th anniversary and marking 140 years since the concerto’s world premiere in Boston in 1875. For the recording, Mr. Gerstein was granted special pre-publication access to new score material. The complete recording, currently available for pre-order in the US from Amazon.com, comprises Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, Op. 23, and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16, performed by Mr. Gerstein with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and conducted by James Gaffigan.
Mr. Gerstein said, “Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto is one of the most famous pieces in classical music. Surprisingly, the edited version of the concerto that has prevailed in the last hundred years of performances is one that Tchaikovsky neither approved nor conducted himself.”
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 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, which has been recorded here, incorporated small practical adjustments to the piano part made by Tchaikovsky. It was published in 1879 and used by him in subsequent performances including on tour during his only visit to America in 1891 with concerts in New York for the opening of Carnegie Hall, 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.” In his recording, Mr. Gerstein restores a cut traditional 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.”
Paired with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is Prokofiev’s second Piano Concerto, which for very different reasons also exists in a revised edition. As Mr. Gerstein explains, “composed in 1913, Prokofiev left the original manuscript of the second concerto in Russia and during one of the cold winters during the tumultuous period of the Russian revolution the score was used by his neighbors for heating the stove. He reconstructed and revised the composition premièring the second version of the concerto in Paris in 1924.”
About Kirill Gerstein
Kirill Gerstein has proven to be 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 numerous styles. He is the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award and received the First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv.
Mr. Gerstein tours extensively as a recitalist and concert soloist and often performs chamber music with his colleagues. Highlights of the 2014-15 season include performances with the Boston, Nashville, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Vancouver symphonies and the Minnesota and Philadelphia orchestras, among others. Internationally, he performs with the Vienna Philharmonic, London’s Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestras, the Gewandhaus Leipzig Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
Prior recordings for Myrios Classics include two recital albums: Imaginary Pictures, which pairs Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with Schumann’s Carnaval, and an album of works by Schumann, Liszt, and Oliver Knussen. Both recordings have been chosen by The New York Times as a “best recording of the year.” Mr. Gerstein has also collaborated with violist Tabea Zimmerman on recordings of sonatas for viola and piano.
Born in Voronezh in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and then formally studied both classical and jazz after moving to the US at the age of 14—first jazz piano at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, then classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music where he completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees by the age of 20. Mr. Gerstein is currently artist-in-residence in the Piano Department at Berklee College of Music and a member of the piano faculty at The Boston Conservatory, in the first joint appointment between both institutions.
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KIRILL GERSTEIN, piano
Myrios Classics: MYR016
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
James Gaffigan, conductor
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23
1879 version – world premiere recording
1 Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso 20:12
2 Andantino simplice 6:24
3 Allegro con fuoco 7:28
Sergei Sergeyevish Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16
4 Andantino 10:58
5 Scherzo: Vivace 2:37
6 Intermezzo: Allegro modearato 6:48
7 Finale: Allegro tempestoso 10:53
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