Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto is a work which happily combines enormous popularity with rich musical substance. Hans von Bülow, the soloist for the first performance in 1875 and later chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker said, “There is such unsurpassed originality, such nobility, such strength, and there are so many arresting moments throughout this unique conception; there is such a maturity of form, such style in its design and execution.” In this recording from December 2010, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Neeme Järvi perform the work with the Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos.
Volodos first caused a sensation with a solo CD of breakneck virtuosity in 1997. His first recording with an orchestra followed three years later: his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The English magazine Gramophone found his interpretation to be “coolly masterful,” and that, “in his sky-rocketing launch of the finale there is no mistaking the authenticity of his virtuoso thunder. … Volodos’s mastery both technically and musically will take the wind out of the sails of even the most formidable pianists.”
In addition to the Tchaikovsky concerto, there are two other lesser-known Russian works in this recording which both pick up on western models and which are both performed here for the first time by the Berliner Philharmoniker. Firstly, there is a dance suite from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera-ballet Mlada, where the clear echoes of a St Petersburg production of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen can be heard. The second half of the concert consists of Sergei Taneyev’s Fourth Symphony. Taneyev, a student of Tchaikovsky, was a passionate disciple of Baroque counterpoint. As a result, the second movement of his Fourth Symphony, for example, sounds almost like a collaboration with George Frideric Handel.
18 Dec 2010
Mlada, Suite from the opera-ballet (19 min.)
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in B flat minor, op. 23 (43 min.)
Arcadi Volodos Piano
Symphony No. 4 in C minor, op. 12 (45 min.)