Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto might never have seen the light of day — the pianist for whom it was written initially declared it “absolutely unplayable.” Luckily Tchaikovsky ignored this criticism, published his concerto, and unveiled what has become one of the most famous piano concertos of all time. Pianist Gabriela Montero brings her “monster technique and thrilling tone” (Seattle Times) to this concerto. Principal Guest Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni returns to conduct Prokofiev’s masterful Fifth Symphony. “I conceived of [Symphony No. 5] as glorifying the grandeur of the human spirit . . . praising the free and happy man,” said Prokofiev of the uplifting symphony he composed against the backdrop of WWII. Mussorgsky’s haunting and beloved Night on Bald Mountain opens this all-Russian program.
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Gabriela Montero, piano
Modest Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain (arr. Rimsky-Korsakov)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23
Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5, Op. 100
- Besides being a phenomenal pianist, Gabriela Montero is also an accomplished composer; hear her perform her own First Piano Concerto
- Hear Gabriela Montero, along with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Anthony McGill, perform at the 2009 inauguration
- You may recognize Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto from Olympics ceremonies, Monty Python sketches, films such as Harold and Maude and Misery, and more. See if you can place it
- The mentor who originally told Tchaikovsky that his First Piano Concerto was “unplayable” was pianist Nikolai Rubeinstein. Read the full story here
- “The world premiere of Prokofiev’s new symphony was a highly anticipated event. Prokofiev himself conducted it in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on January 13, 1945. The pianist Sviatoslav Richter was in attendance, and left a vivid recollection: ‘When Prokofiev mounted the podium and silence set in, artillery salvos suddenly thundered. His baton was already raised. He waited, and until the cannon fire ceased, he didn’t begin. There was something very significant, very symbolic in this. It was as if all of us—including Prokofiev—had reached some kind of shared turning point.’” Read more about Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony