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5.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky Treasures Sparkling In The Shadow Of Piano Concerto No. 1, 29 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky : Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3 - Apex (MP3 Download)
With perhaps one of the best known openings to a piano concerto-a typically plangent Tchaikovsky theme that reappears but once before the movement ranges widely, with passsion and pathos, over a multiude of musical moods-followed by a beautifully serene second movement, rippling just slightly with that nervous energy that infuses Tchaikovsky's music, and finishing off with, yes, a typically rousing and triumphant Tchaikovsky finale, the first piano concerto was always going to be hard to follow.

With the second piano concerto, performed here with the swirling gusto it deserves by Elisabeth Leonskaja in unison with a warm and robust sounding New York Philharminic orchestra under the direction of Kurt Masur, Tchaikovsky has polished off another musical gem that glistens at every turn with his unique musical inspiration...even if, compared to the first, one would describe it as a little more conventional - if only because it sounds more 'Russian'.

Perhaps of more interest here is the third concerto. I have seen this concerto given the warning label 'unfinished' so was not expecting a great deal. As it turns out the concerto is not so much 'unfinished' as the 'finished' result of some compositional inspirational wrestling by Tchaikovsky not long before his death. It started out as the first movement of his seventh symphony in E flat. On the manuscript to it Tchaikovsky wrote a note: "The end. God be thanked." A sure sign that things were not going well. He later wrote of it: "As music it hasn't come out badly-but it's pretty ungrateful."

He subsequently abandoned the symphony but decided to rework the first movement as a piece for piano and orchestra saying, in a letter to Polish composer and pianist Zygmunt Stojowski: "...this concerto is of depressing and threatening length. Consequently I decided to have only part one which in itself will constitute an entire concerto." Thus, discarding the sketched-out second and third movements as not worthy, was born his third piano concerto. Considering its somewhat tortured birth it holds up surprisingly well here-doubtless in part due to the generous and sympathetic treatment given to it in this recording. Listening to it, though, one can't help but feel that it has the seeds of a far greater, majestic work that might have come to fruition if only Tchaikovsky had been given more time, more life. As it is, it stands as testimony that Tchaikovsky, along with so many of the great composers whose lives were either cut short or descended in to assorted states of personal difficulty and tragedy, could still turn out musical gems in the midst of personal struggles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)
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