To perform the solo part of one of the gigantic works of piano literature – Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 – at one concert is already a great challenge; to tackle the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in one sitting is a feat that few pianists can pull off besides Daniel Barenboim.
Pianist, conductor and chamber musician extraordinaire, Daniel Barenboim hands over the reins of “his” orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, to his close friend and colleague Zubin Mehta, whose friendship with Barenboim goes back decades. Conjuring up the youthful spirit of his early career, Barenboim approaches his mighty task with effortless ease and spirit.
First on the program is Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor, the key of Beethoven’s “storm and stress” works, some of the most dramatic in his oeuvre: the Fifth Symphony, the “Pathétique” sonata and others. Written in the last years of the 18th century, it was premiered in Vienna in 1803. The second powerhouse piece is Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in B-flat minor, which was premiered in Boston in 1875. One of the most beloved concertos of all, it has long since left its stature as a work of “serious” music behind it to join the world of “popular” classics – even if the work’s original dedicatee, Nicholas Rubinstein, called the piece “bad, trivial, vulgar”.
Commemorating the composer Elliott Carter, who passed away at the age of 103 just a few days before the concert, Barenboim performs Carter’s “Dialogues II” for piano and orchestra, which Carter had written especially for Barenboim. “For me, he was and remains one of the most interesting figures in the music history of the past century” (Barenboim in DIE ZEIT).
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Dialogues II for piano and orchestra
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23