Tag Archives: Tschaikowsky: 2. Klavierkonzert ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Yefim Bronfman ∙ Paavo Järvi

Tschaikowsky: 2. Klavierkonzert ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Yefim Bronfman ∙ Paavo Järvi

The hr-Sinfonieorchester is the Radio Orchestra of Hessischer Rundfunk, the public broadcasting network of the German state of Hesse. From 1929 to 1950 it was named Frankfurter Rundfunk-Symphonie-Orchester.

Hola a todos. This is a beautiful performance of the Tschaikowsky 2. Klavierkonzert/Piano Concerto No. 2. I suppose someone might say, “Why the Tschaikowsky Second? I like his First Piano Concerto.” Well, his First Piano Concerto is so over-performed by comparison. And I’ve come to like the Second better, particularly the second and third movements and especially the way both are played in this performance.

While watching this with mi amigo/my friend, I said (referring to the pianist, Yefim): “The boy can play!” Mi amigo said: Yes, I think he’s played this a few times. No doubt about that. He had his score with him but he didn’t use it. It stayed closed inside the piano. Yefim makes playing this concerto look rather effortless, the sign of a true artist. He seemed very humble and modest when it came time for the bows and despite him being the piano soloist he seemed to want to give primary attention to the First Concertmaster and principal cellist soloists. He didn’t make it all about himself which was nice to see and he really seemed to appreciate this superb, outstanding Orchestra. Frankfurt does have a stellar Orchestra, and their string section! Ah…exquisite.

Yefim and Paavo (the conductor) seem to have an excellent rapport, which is critical for a good concerto performance. Notice the looks they give each other at times such as at 40.37-40 in the video. We laugh every time we see that. Yefim spoke very highly of Paavo as a conductor in a brief interview I read awhile back. I’ve seen some conductors and pianists on the odd occasion where they look like they can’t really stand each other or barely get along or the conductor doesn’t feel like dealing with the pianist and the pianist rarely looks at the conductor (which annoys the conductor of course). Some pianists seem to take the approach that they are the soloist and the Orchestra can just follow along, which is not the best way to approach a piano concerto. It should be a collaboration between the two considering the pianist couldn’t play the piece as a concerto if the Orchestra wasn’t there! I don’t think too many people want to hear only the piano part and hum in the orchestral part.

This Orchestra, the hr-Sinfonieorchester/Frankfurt Radio Symphony is my favourite Orchestra. I love watching them, and their beautiful playing. The hr-Sinfonieorchester seem to keep most of their musicians. I see them over and over. Glad to see them staying. They seem like a very good group of people and they’re all supportive of each other, from what I can tell.

The second movement of this concerto is more like chamber music than a piano concerto. Maybe it’s just me, but the second movement of this concerto always moves me, especially when the principal cellist and First Concertmaster play their solo and duet passages so beautifully. One almost forgets this is a piano concerto until the pianist quietly comes back in with his part.

The hr-Sinfonieorchester have one of the finest Steinway & Sons pianos. Lovely tone and the treble is absolutely sparkling. I’ll presume it’s a Hamburg Steinway — since they are in Deutschland — as opposed to a New York Steinway, although I did read awhile back that they’re trying to now make them all the same so the New York factory is in contact with the Hamburg factory on that. Which one will they end up going for? The more expensive Hamburg or the cheaper-built New York? I remember concert pianist Cristina Ortiz saying she prefers the Hamburg piano and can tell immediately from playing a few notes/keys if the Steinway she’s about to play is a Hamburg. It’s one of several reasons why she doesn’t like performing in the US because Concert Halls here only have the New York Steinway. (Related: The All-Steinway Schools). She also doesn’t like the placement of the piano on the outside of the Orchestra for concerto performances rather than more inside the Orchestra (First Concertmaster right behind her) so she can feel as one with the Orchestra and hear the Orchestra better. Understandable. Yes, it annoys me when I see a piano stuck out on the edge of the stage for a concerto performance. How on Earth is the pianist supposed to hear the Orchestra well stuck way out there? And the conductor is way over there with the Orchestra having to turn, crane his neck and look way behind him in order to have eye contact with the pianist. I think that’s an Arrogant Empire/US thing as well as a BBC Proms thing, since they seem to have to copy anything The Arrogant Empire does, even when it doesn’t make any sense musically! Cristina said that she will ask the conductor if he could move the piano in closer inside the Orchestra — where it should be — where she’s much more comfortable playing, and the placement of the piano affects her playing. I can certainly understand that. It’s sort of hit and miss though. She said some conductors are very accommodating to her request where others are not. The seating of the strings forms an even line across the front of the stage, and the right side of the piano should be inside that line even with them, is the point being made. Often in the US, the left side of the piano is way outside that line closer to the audience. In the video below, the piano in this performance of the Tschaikowsky is in the correct place and the pianist and conductor are virtually side-by-side and have extremely close and direct eye contact with each other, as it should be. No craning of necks to see each other.

Maybe you’ll enjoy this concerto splendidly performed from Frankfurt by the hr-Sinfonieorchester. And the Orchestra looked like they really enjoyed playing this piece. Chau.—el barrio rosa