Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major, Op. 75
Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D 944 (“The Great”)
The multifaceted pianist Kirill Gerstein has rapidly ascended into classical music’s highest ranks. His early training and experience in jazz has contributed an important element to his interpretive style.
Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. Since receiving the award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has shared his prize through the commissioning of boundary-crossing works by Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, and Brad Mehldau. Mr. Gerstein was awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant.
In the 2018/2019 season Gerstein gives the world premiere performance of Thomas Adès’ new Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer, with performances in Boston and in Carnegie Hall, New York. Elsewhere in this season, Gerstein appears with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder. He performs in China with the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestras, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paolo. He plays recitals in London, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Singapore, Melbourne and Copenhagen, as well as chamber performances with the Hagen Quartet, Veronika Eberle and Clemens Hagen in Lucerne, and with actor Bruno Ganz for recitals in Germany and Austria.
In autumn 2018 Gerstein’s recording of Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko was released on LAWO Classic’s. Future recording releases this season include Busoni’s Piano Concerto on myrios classics in spring 2019 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Nos. 1–3 in summer 2019, part of Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project recorded for Decca with the Czech Philharmonic.
Born in 1979 in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and while studying classical music, taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. After coming to the attention of vibraphonist Gary Burton, who was performing at a music festival in the Soviet Union, Mr. Gerstein came to the United States at 14 to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in three years and following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein turned his focus back to classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned both Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20. He continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany.
A committed teacher and pedagogue, Gerstein taught at the Stuttgart Musik Hochschule from 2007–2017 and from autumn 2018 he teaches as part of Kronberg Academy’s newly announced Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Artists.
Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov was born in Leningrad in 1952, immigrated to the United States in 1975, and has been based in Europe since the mid-1980s. Like the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the cultures both of the East and the West.
Following his early concerts with the Czech Philharmonic in 2013, Bychkov and the Orchestra devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies and studio recordings which allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together. Its first fruit was released by Decca in October 2016, followed in August 2017 by the release of the Manfred symphony. The projectculminates in 2019 with residencies in Prague, Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.
Fourteen years after leaving the former Soviet Union, Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, the same year as he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. His international career had taken off several years earlier when a series of high-profile cancellations resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1997, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and the following year, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
Bychkov conducts the major orchestras and at the major opera houses in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to his title with the Czech Philharmonic, he holds the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms, and the honorary Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. He was named “Conductor of the Year” at the 2015 International Opera Awards. On the concert platform, the combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy has ensured that Bychkov’s performances are highly anticipated. With repertoire that spans four centuries, the coming season brings two weeks of concerts with the New York Philharmonic, which includes the US première of Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2, and the Cleveland Orchestra where he will conduct Detlev Glanert, Martinů and Smetana. In Europe, his concerts include performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Royal Concertgebouw.
Bychkov’s recording career began in 1986 when he signed with Philips and began a significant collaboration which produced an extensive discography with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Subsequently a series of benchmark recordings – the result of his 13-year collaboration (1997–2010) with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne – include a complete cycle of Brahms’s Symphonies, and works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Detlev Glanert and York Höller. His recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year in 2010; and his recent recording of Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2 with the Vienna Philharmonic was selected as BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month.
Leoš Janáček did not write some of his most important works until he was around seventy years old. By then, he had already lived a life filled with a great variety of musical activities, but for him the 1920s in the new Czechoslovak state meant a period of unprecedented flourishing. One of the works from this period is the Concertino for piano and chamber ensemble (1925). The external stimulus for its creation was the artistry of the superb Czech pianist Jan Heřman, to whom Janáček dedicated the composition, but the composer also took inspiration from the awakening of nature in springtime (Spring had even been the original subtitle). The four-movement work is in the character of a suite, and its defining features are the folk-like colour of the melodies and the special sound of the non-traditional instrumental ensemble (two violins, viola, clarinet, bassoon, French horn). The main role falls to the soloistically conceived piano part, which is joined in the individual movements by various other instruments and their combinations. The work amounts to a kind of little piano concerto of a modern kind. Since its premiere in Brno, the Concertino has been one of the composer’s popular works.
It is not too well known that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed a total of three piano concertos. The least played of them is the Third Piano Concerto in E Flat Major, which is moreover surrounded by a number of mysteries. The entire work is contained in a single movement lasting approximately a quarter of an hour. This structure, atypical of Tchaikovsky, raises the question as to whether the work is unfinished. This would tend to be supported by the fact that the score was not completed until shortly before the composer’s death. Nonetheless, the extant form of the concerto is undeniably written in Tchaikovsky’s musical language. In addition, the virtuosic piano part is highlighted by a lengthy solo cadenza. Sometimes the work is played together with two other movements (Andante and Finale, Op. 79), which were completed and orchestrated based on preserved sketches by the composer’s pupil Sergei Taneyev. All three of these movements were based on musical material that the composer had to planned to use in a seventh symphony that was never realised.
Franz Schubert composed a total of eight symphonies. The last of them, the C Major (“Great”), is nonetheless sometimes called the Ninth, because the position of the Seventh is taken by an extensive symphonic fragment. The name “Great” differentiates this work from Schubert’s Sixth Symphony in the same key (the “Little C Major”). Lasting an hour, the magnificent work is longer than not only any of the composer’s other symphonies, but also most other symphonic works of its time; only Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony approaches its length. Schubert composed his symphony in several phases beginning in 1825, and he never was to hear the definitive version he completed in the year of his death. The score then remained for a long time in the keeping of his brother Ferdinand. There, it was found by Robert Schumann, who was enthusiastic about the piece and turned it over to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Thus it was thanks to the collegial approach of two other musical greats that the work was given its belated premiere in 1839 inLeipzig.
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