“Think you know Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1? Think again.
It’s one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire. But the pianist Kirill Gerstein, as inquisitive as he is talented, argues that what we commonly hear is an overly ostentatious misrepresentation, tarted up after Tchaikovsky’s death.
From Thursday through Feb. 7 with the New York Philharmonic, Mr. Gerstein plays a new critical edition, more delicate and less grandiose. Based on an 1879 version, it has among its sources Tchaikovsky’s own conducting score, which he used in a St. Petersburg concert nine days before his death in 1893. It is therefore closer to the music performed at Carnegie Hall’s opening week in 1891 than anything heard by New Yorkers since. Here are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Gerstein.”
You can hear Kirill at the New York Philharmonic February 2-7. Tickets are available here.
The trouble with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor The Tchaikovsky concerto that wasn’tJuly 16th, 2016
“Gerstein’s performance makes an overwhelmingly convincing case for returning to the author’s text, to forget what overzealous editors put in. Yet, oddly, at the most recent Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow pianists performed the now-discredited version. Perhaps someone ought to send Gerstein’s recording to Russia, with love.”
“Kirill Gerstein is a big guy, and last Sunday he gave a big performance, attacking the Shalin Liu Hall piano with a vengeance. Likewise his chosen Beethoven, Goehr, and Liszt pieces, all on themes of fantasizing. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything like it, and not only in its scale, power, and punch… To my ringing ears Kirill Gerstein is a major voice, talent, and interpretative addition to the piano scene.”
“Gerstein is such a musician. His playing of these supremely difficult works had a poetic sensitivity to match the technical fireworks…Rapturous applause brought Gerstein back onstage twice for bows. No encore was offered, but after such brilliant playing, none was needed. “
“The bulk of the program is devoted to works of Beethoven and Liszt, including Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, selections from Liszt’s “Transcendental Etudes,” and his Dante Sonata.
‘I played most of this recital this past spring in New York,’ says Gerstein, who was born in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, but now lives in Berlin. ‘My idea was to situate the music after Beethoven. So much music after Beethoven stems from Beethoven, but I feel like Liszt was a continuation of the tradition of the first Viennese school — including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. So many people get distracted by the virtuosity, but the language and the structure in Liszt is related to the Viennese classics. That’s how this program was built.’”
” Kirill Gerstein was the very fine soloist, combining virtuosity and, at times, massive sound with gentle, lyrical freedom not always found in performances of Rachmaninov’s concertos.”
“Kirill Gerstein’s playing was flat-out fabulous, and he received the kind of ovation he richly deserved.”