17 Nov 2023

Auckland Philharmonia: Gavrylyuk Plays Tchaikovsky

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 17 November 2023

Ukrainian-born Australian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk is the Auckland Philharmonia's guest for the mighty First Piano Concerto by Tchaikovsky ... always a crowd favourite. Giordano Bellincampi conducts and the programme also contains works by Respighi and Haydn.

Alexander Gavrylyuk

Alexander Gavrylyuk Photo: CC by SA 4.0

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No 1 in Bb minor Op 23

When introducing Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano concerto, it’s hard to go past the tale of its reception by Nikolai Rubenstein - it’s intended dedicatee.

Rubenstein’s reaction to the private performance was captured by Tchaikovsky in a letter, as follows:

“‘Well?’ I asked, and rose from the piano. Then a torrent broke from Rubinstein’s lips, gentle at first, gathering volume as it proceeded, and finally bursting into the fury of a Jupiter. My Concerto was worthless, absolutely unplayable; the passages so broken, so disconnected, so unskillfully written, that they could not even be improved; […] I left the room without a word. Presently Rubinstein came to me and, seeing how upset I was, [he] said if I would suit it to his requirements he would bring it out at his concert. ‘I shall not alter a single note,’ I replied.”

And so the composer turned to Hans von Bülow to champion the work. It was triumphantly premiered in Boston on October 13, 1875. A series of American performances followed doing much to lift Tchaikovsky’s profile in the US.

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RACHMANINOV arr Zoltan Kocsis: Vocalise

An encore from Alexander Gavrylyuk.

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RESPIGHI: Trittico Botticelliano

Composed in 1927, Respighi took his inspiration from Florence’s Uffizi Gallery where the three paintings of Botticelli for which the movements are named caught his imagination: 'Spring', 'The Adoration of the Magi', and 'The Birth of Venus'.

The American arts patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge was also important to the work’s genesis. She had backed the composer’s first visit to the States over the winter of 1925-26 where he premiered his piano work Concerto in the Myxolidian mode with the New York Philharmonic.

During Respighi’s second visit to the US, he came up with the idea of the Trittico and decided to dedicate it to Mrs. Coolidge.

The score was premiered at a concert in Vienna sponsored again by Mrs. Coolidge at the end of the year, with Respighi conducting.

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HAYDN: Symphony No 103 in E flat, Drumroll

After the death of his patron Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy in 1790, Haydn’s nearly 30 year of musical service to the household was broken as his orchestra was disbanded by the next in line to the title.

Haydn found himself a free agent and was tempted to London by the English promoter Johann Salomon. A whirlwind of success in the English capital followed - Haydn was embraced by the public and the first six of his ‘London symphonies’ were born.

He returned for a second London stint in 1794 with six more symphonies - his final works in the form - which included No. 103, the ‘Drumroll’. It was performed on the 1st of March 1795 and the Morning Chronicle gushed:

"Another new symphony by the fertile and enchanting Haydn was performed, which as usual, had strokes of genius, both in air and harmony. The Introduction excited the deepest attention, the Allegro charmed, the Andante was encored, the Minuet, especially the Trio, was playful and sweet and the last movement was equal, if not superior, to the preceding."

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Recorded by RNZ Concert, Auckland Town Hall, 17 November 2023
Producer: Tim Dodd
Enginieer: Adrian Hollay

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