6th August 2016
Ahead of his Proms performance of the First Piano Concerto tomorrow, the pianist talks to David about the various versions of the work.
2nd March 2015
David listens to a pair of new releases that throw light on early versions of concertos by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.
Kirill Gerstein’s first orchestral recording marks the world première recording of the 1879 version of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto. Based on Tchaikovsky’s own conducting score from his last public concert, the new critical Urtext edition will be published in 2015 by the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin, tying in with Tchaikovsky’s 175th anniversary and marking 140 years since the concerto’s world première in Boston, in 1875. For the recording, with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by James Gaffigan, Kirill was granted special pre-publication access to the new Urtext edition.
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 in 1893 at the last concert he conducted when he paired the Piano Concerto with the world première of his Pathétique Symphony. Tchaikovsky died within days of the performance, and the third version of the Concerto was published a year after his death. According to Kirill 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.” For this world première recording, Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto is paired with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The chequered history of the second Piano Concerto also resulted in a second version. As Kirill 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 neighbours for heating the stove. He reconstructed and revised the composition premièring the second version of the concerto in Paris in 1924.”