Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov & Prokofiev - First Piano Concertos | Bel Air Music BAM2017

Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov & Prokofiev - First Piano Concertos


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Label: Bel Air Music

Cat No: BAM2017

Barcode: 5705604020175

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 22nd December 2008



Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no.1 is one of his best-loved compositions. For technical advice on his piano concerto, Tchaikovsky turned to his friend, Nikolay Rubinstein, the great piano virtuoso. To his unpleasant surprise, Rubinstein pronounced the work “worthless and unplayable”. However, several years later, Rubinstein admitted that he had been wrong, and performed the concerto in Moscow. The work is best remembered for its huge, sweeping melody that launches it and projects the magnificence of Imperial Russia. After the opening melody, Tchaikovsky introduces a vigorous new theme that is thought to be based on a Ukranian folk tune which reflects the dynamic rhythms of Russian dancing. The central section of the concerto is based on the old French song, “Il faut s’amuser, danser et rire”, and was part of the repertoire of Désirée Artôt, the French singer to whom Tchaikovsky was briefly engaged. The fiery finale also has Ukranian origins, whereby Tchaikovsky has actually quoted from the Ukranian song, “Come, Come Ivanka”.

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no.1 was his first completed concert work in 1890-91. The concerto was later revised in 1917 just before Rachmaninov left Russia. Like so much of Russian music, Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto has a brooding expansiveness that seems to echo the vast open spaces of the Russian landscape. Rich melodies are not dropped once they have done their job, but are allowed to unfold gradually, like great storm clouds tumbling through the sky. Rachmaninov benefited much from the experience gained in composing his Second and Third piano concertos which were written in the interval, so the revised version of Concerto no.1 proved to be one of his best concertos.

In 1904, at the age of 13, the young Prokofiev entered the St Petersburg Conservatory, taking with him four operas, two sonatas, a symphony, and many other pieces. His ten years at the conservatory were not without problems because he already felt himself a composer who needed little but polishing up. In 1910, his father died and it became necessary for him to make his own way. Fortunately in 1911 and 1913, he premiered his First and Second piano concertos - each causing quite a sensation - and his music appeared in print for the first time. He graduated in 1914, winning the Rubinstein Prize for a performance of his Piano Concerto no.1.

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