TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 / The Tempest

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Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840- 1893)

Piano Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor, Opus 23

The Tempest, Opus 18

Waltz, Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Opus 24

Tchaikovsky, arguably the most popular of all Russian composers, wasborn in 1840, the son of an inspector of mines. The relative happiness of hischildhood was broken by the departure of his beloved governess, Fanny Durbach,and by the death of his mother, the latter event during his education at theSchool of Jurisprudence, in preparation for a career in government service. Hisexceptional musical abilities were fostered in childhood and adolescence byprivate lessons, leading, in 1862, to his resignation from the Ministry ofJustice, and his entry into the newly established St. Petersburg Conservatory ofMusic, under the direction of Anton Rubinstein. Three years later he joined theteaching staff of the Conservatory established in Moscow by Rubinstein'sbrother Nikolay.

Tchaikovsky was to spend twelve years in Moscow, years that broughtgrowing success to him as a composer and encouragement and interference fromthe nationalist group of composers led by Balakirev. In fact, however foreignand Russian his music might have seemed to critics like Eduard Hanslick inVienna, Tchaikovsky represents something of a synthesis between the cruderattempts at creating a recognisably Russian kind of music and the smoother,technically accomplished work of the Conservatories, denigrated by theirenemies as "German".

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor was written towardsthe end of 1874. The composer played it through to Nikolay Rubinstein onChristmas Eve, 5th January, 1875, in Western dating, seeking advice on thelay-out of the solo part. Rubinstein's response was one of utter anddevastating condemnation. The concerto was worthless and unplayable, with triteand awkward passages, bad, tawdry and borrowed. Tchaikovsky, diffident at thebest of times, was appalled by this reaction. Nevertheless the work survived,with a successful first performance by Hans von B??low in Boston in October, andsubsequent revisions and performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Theconcerto has continued to arouse popular enthusiasm and occasional criticaldisdain, the latter resulting largely from the work's very popularity, and thebrood of lesser concertos that it has in part inspired. It uses some borrowedmaterial with Ukrainian folk-songs providing the first subject of the firstmovement and the opening theme of the last, and the French Il faut s'amuser et rire providing alighter element in the second.

Tchaikovsky, in common with other artists and composers of thenineteenth century, found a ready source of inspiration in Shakespeare. Thesuggestion for a musical treatment of The Tempest came from Vladimir Stasov, mentorof the Mighty Handful of nationalist composers to which Tchaikovsky nevercommitted himself. He wrote the work rapidly, over a period of some eleven daysin the autumn of 1873. The first performance, under Nikolay Rubinstein, tookplace on 19th December, 1873, at a Russian Music Society concert.

The programme of The Tempest

(Burya), Opus 18, described as afantasia for orchestra, is derived from Stasov and was printed with thepublished score: The sea, Ariel, spirit of the air, obeying the will of themagician Prospero, raises a storm. Wreck of the ship bringing Ferdinand. Theenchanted isle. First timid feelings of love of Miranda and Ferdinand. Ariel,Caliban. The lovers succumb to their passion. Prospero deprives himself of hismagic power and leaves the island. The sea.

The opera Eugene Onegin

was written during the most difficult period of Tchaikovsky's life, the year ofhis marriage, separation, attempted suicide and brief self-imposed exileabroad. It was completed early in 1878 and first performed in Moscow underNikolay Rubinstein the following year. The libretto was adapted from Pushkinand deals with the unhappy relationship between Eugene Onegin and Tatiana, theformer's thoughtless selfishness, the death of his close friend Lensky at hishands in a duel, his exile, and his return after Tatiana has married another.

Dances play an important part in the story. The waltz of the first scene of thesecond act brings Lensky and Olga, Onegin and Tatiana together, while aMazurka, in which Onegin dances with Olga, provokes Lensky's jealousy. Onegin'sreturn from exile brings him to a ball where he meets Tatiana once more, thepoignancy of the scene enhanced by the cheerful Polka danced by the guests.

Joseph Banowetz

Joseph Banowetz is internationally recognized as an artist whose Iperformances of the Romantic literature of the piano have earned the highest,critical ac claim. Fanfare Record Magazine

(U.S.A.) termed him one of "the pre-eminent 'three B's' of Lisztplaying."

Born in the United States, part of Banowetz's early training wasreceived in New York City with Carl Friedberg, a pupil of Clara Schumann. Aftercontinuing his studies at Vienna's Hochschule fuer Musik und DarstellendeKunst, Banowetz's career was launched upon his graduating with a First Prize inpiano. He was then sent by the Austrian government on an extended European /p>

concert tour. Subsequently he has performed throughout North America, fEurope, Russia, and Asia. In 1966 he was awarded the Pan American Prize 'I bythe Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.

Following his first appearances in the Orient in 1981, Banowetz's toursthere I have received ever-increasing enthusiastic response. He is the firstforeign artist ever to be invited by the Chinese Ministry of Culture both torecord and , to give world premiere performances of a contemporary Chinesepiano concerto (Huang An-lun Piano Concerto, Op. 25b). Banowetz has recordedwith the CSR Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony, the Hong KongPhilharmonic and the China Central Opera Orchestra of Beijing.

Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)

The Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldestsymphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 at the instance of MilosRuppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in the sphere of music.

Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1970 and in 1977 itsconductor-in-chief. The orchestra has given successful concerts both at homeand abroad, in West and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Spain,Italy, and Great Britain.

Ondrej Lenard

Ondrej Lenard was born in 1942 and had his early training inBratislava, where, at the age of 17, he entered the Academy of Music and Drama,to study under Ludovit Rajter. His graduation concert in 1964 was given withthe Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and during his two years of military servicehe conducted the Army Orchestral Ensemble, later renewing an earlier connectionwith the Slovak National Opera, where he has continued to direct performances.

Lenard's work with the Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra inBratislava began in 1970 and in 1977 he was appointed Principal Conductor. Atthe same time he has travelled widely abroad in Europe, the Americas, theSoviet Union and elsewhere as a guest conductor, and during his two years, from1984 to 1986, as General Music Director of the Slovak National Opera recordedfor Opus operas by Puccini, Gounod, Suchon and Bellini.

For Naxos Lenard has recorded symphonies by Tchaikovsky and works byGlazunov, Johann Strauss II, Verdi and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Item number 8550137
Barcode 4891030501379
Release date 12/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Banowetz, Joseph
Banowetz, Joseph
Composers Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich
Conductors Lenard, Ondrej
Lenard, Ondrej
Orchestras Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Producers Appenheimer, Gunter
Appenheimer, Gunter
Disc: 1
Eugene Onegin
1 Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Allegro con
2 Andantino semplice - Prestissimo
3 Allegro con fuoco
4 The Tempest Op. 18
5 Polonaise
6 Waltz
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