Kirill Gerstein Wins 2015 Echo Klassik Concerto Recording of the Year for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Composer’s Own 1879 Version of the Score

Copertina cd GersteinAugust 24, 2015 – Pianist Kirill Gerstein has received an ECHO Klassik Award––Germany’s equivalent of the American Grammy Award and one of the most important and well known music awards in the world––in the category “Concerto Recording of the Year (19th Century Music)” for his world premiere recording of the 1879 version of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16, performed with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and conducted by James Gaffigan. The recording was released in the U.S. in March 2015 by myrios classics.

For the recording, Mr. Gerstein was granted special access from the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin (Moscow) to new score material based on the latest musicological research and Tchaikovsky’s own conducting score from his last public concert. A new critical Urtext edition of the score was published by the Tchaikovsky Museum in 2015 in association with the 175th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Kirill Gerstein said, “When I first heard of the research by the Tchaikovsky archive in Klin into the urtext version of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, I knew that this was a project I wanted to be involved in.  Since then, it has been my mission to draw attention to the version of this concerto that Tchaikovsky himself conducted.  I am honored and thrilled by the recognition awarded our recording by the ECHO Klassik Prize.”

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 exists in three versions. 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 on tour during his only visit to America in 1891 with concerts in New York for the opening of Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC; and in 1893 at the last concert he conducted.  Tchaikovsky died within days of this performance, and the third version of the Concerto was published a year after his death. According to Mr. Gerstein, 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.”

Paired with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is Prokofiev’s second Piano Concerto, which for very different reasons also exists in a revised edition. As Mr. Gerstein 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 neighbors for heating the stove. He reconstructed and revised the composition premièring the second version of the concerto in Paris in 1924.”

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