Piano Concertos by Tchaikovsky and Arensky

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Piano Concertos by Tchaikovsky and Arensky


This recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 testifies to Ms Blumental’s skill and musicianship, whose hands were considerably smaller than those of the composer. This disc includes the rare Piano Concerto in F minor by Anton Arensky.

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This recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 testifies to Ms Blumental’s skill and musicianship, whose hands were considerably smaller than those of the composer. This disc includes the rare Piano Concerto in F minor by Anton Arensky.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23

Felicja Blumental – piano
Michael Gielen – conductor
Orchestra of the Vienna Musikgesellschaft

  • Allegro non troppo – Allegro con spirito (17’53)
  • Andantino simplice – Prestissimo – Tempo Primo (6’25)
  • Allegro con fuoco (6’25)

Anton Arensky – Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 2

Felicja Blumental – piano
Jiri Waldhans – conductor
Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Allegro maestoso (11’59)
  • Andante con moto (6’04)
  • Scherzo-Finale – Allegro molto (8’57)

Total running time (58’06)

The first of these Russian piano concertos by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky is one of the World’s most famous classical masterpieces and instantly recognisable from it’s introduction.

Tchaikovsky was first inspired to compose by his teacher, Anton Rubinstein, while he was studying at St. Petersburg Conservatory. His first composition, dated 1864 is an overtured title The Storm. Ten years later in 1874, Tchaikovsky began composing his Piano Concerto No. 1. On completion, he gave the manuscript to pianist, Nicolas Rubinstein (brother of Anton) to whom the work was dedicated. Nicolas’ reaction was unfavourable. He is reported to have described it as “banal, clumsy and incompetently written.” Rubinstein requested a revision of the work under his direction which greatly annoyed Tchaikovsky so he substituted the name for Hans von Bülow, a notable Germany pianist who priased its style and form. Hans von Büulow performed he première in 1875 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Russian première in St. Petersburg was the following week under the direction of Czech conductor, Eduard Naprovnik.

Anton Arensky composed his Piano Concerto in F minor, Op 2 in 1882 at the age of 21, the same year he began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory. It is reminiscent of Chopin in it’s virtuoso passages but keeps it’s Russian character, very similar to the styles of Tchaikovsky (with whom he made a close association) and Rimsky-Korsakov, his teacher at St. Petersburg Conservatory. It too has a tense and dramatic opening first movement which leads into the piano theme, but it’s the ‘dance like’ third movement in which Ms. Blumental particularly sparkles and it’s here that Arensky entertains his fascination for irregular time signatures with a 5/4 finale.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)

Tchaikovsky had a rather more turbulent career than most. The death of his mother at the age of 14 and attending a military boarding school had a negative impact on the young Tchaikovsky. He found comfort in music and decided to leave his post at the Ministry of Justice and dedicate his life to the art form – a decision that is said to have been inspired by attending a performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. (Mozart was a composer Tchaikovsky admired throughout his life).

Tchaikovsky entered the St Petersburg Conservatory to study under Anton Rubinstein where he first began composing. His early compositions were not received well by the Russian musical establishment, but success came with his First Symphony which was performed in 1868. The subsequent ten years were fruitful in which he composed symphonies, strings quartets, operas and his first Piano Concerto.

Sadly, Tchaikovsky spent much of his adult life tormented by his homosexuality. In 1877, he married a student to conceal his secret, but it ended in disaster leading to further depression and insecurities. However, Tchaikovsky overcame his a creative dry spell and found success with his ballets, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and the Nutcracker as well as operas The Queen of Spades, Eugene Onegin, Violin Concertos and several symphonies. (203) (185 without 1st para and list of ballets)

Anton Arensky (1861 – 1906)

Born in Novgorod, 1861, Anton Arensky showed musical promise from a young age and was composing by the age of nine. He received musical training from his mother before joining the St Petersburg Conservatory as a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov. Upon graduation, Arensky was appointed Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory where he developed a close association with Tchaikovsky. His pupils included Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Gilère. Despite his alcohol abuse and gambling habits, Arensky was devoted to composition and teaching while occasionally appearing as pianist and conductor. Sadly his life was short and Arensky died from tuberculosis age the age of 47.


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