Widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the second half of the 20th century, the Argentine pianist Martha Argerich plays Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Charles Dutoit. Year of the recording: 1975.
The concerto is composed between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky’s desired pianist, who considered the concerto was unplayable. Rubinstein later repudiated his previous accusations and became a fervent champion of the work. It is one of the most popular of Tchaikovsky’s compositions and among the best known of all piano concertos.
The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B-flat, two bassoons, four horns in F, two trumpets in F, three trombones (two tenor, one bass), timpani, solo piano, and strings.
The concerto follows the traditional form of three movements:
- Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito (B flat minor → B flat major)
- Andantino semplice – Allegro vivace assai/Prestissimo (D flat major)
- Allegro con fuoco (B flat minor → B flat major)
Founded by the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (11 November 1883 – 20 February 1969) in 1918, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR; literal translation, “Orchestra of French-speaking Switzerland”) is a Swiss symphony orchestra, based in Geneva at the Victoria Hall. In addition to symphony concerts, the OSR performs as the opera orchestra in productions at the Grand Théâtre de Genève.