A superb Grieg Piano Concerto from Gabrielé Sutkuté with the YMSO under their genial artistic director James Blair.
From the very first famous declaration of intent Gabrielé played with great authority and dynamic drive.
It gave new life to this much loved warhorse as this young Lithuanian looked afresh at the score and imbued it with the same crystalline purity that had secured her recently the top award at the Royal College of Music.
It was in the cadenza that she really took charge as she attacked the great climax like the tiger she can be.But before that she had created a magic atmosphere as she floated the melodic line on a wave of sound that she had created by her sumptuously played arpeggiandi.
If the slow movement was not quite chiselled enough to soar above the sumptuous orchestral sounds it was because she loved it so much that she wanted to integrate totally with her superb young companions.
The final movement was played with wild abandon and a coda at breathtaking speed.
The final glorious outpouring of melodic sounds from the orchestra allowed her to soar across the keyboard with cascades of notes with fearless virtuosity and abandon.
She even had the strength to roar like a Lion in the final triumphant declamation that Grieg had reserved for the piano in his one and only concerto much admired by Liszt.
Many of Gabrielé illustrious colleagues and teachers had come to applaud her and witness the triumphant success that she had truly earned.
The Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 was composed by Edvard Grieg in 1868, was the only concerto Grieg completed and is one of his most popular works.The work is among Grieg’s earliest important works, written by the 24-year-old composer in 1868 in Sollerod ,Denmark, during one of his visits there to benefit from the climate.The work was premiered by Edmund Neupert on 3 April 1869, in Copenhagen, with Holger Simon Paulli conducting. Some sources say that Grieg himself, an excellent pianist, was the intended soloist, but he was unable to attend the premiere owing to commitments with an orchestra in Christiania (Oslo).Among those who did attend the premiere were the Danish composer Niels Gade and the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein who provided his piano for the occasion.The Norwegian premiere in Christiania followed on August 7, 1869, and the piece was later heard in Germany in 1872 and England in 1874. At Grieg’s visit to Franz Liszt in Rome in 1870, Liszt played the notes at sight before an audience of musicians and gave very good comments on Grieg’s work which would later influence him.The concerto is the first piano concerto ever recorded—by pianist Wilhelm Backhaus in 1909. Due to the technology of the time, it was heavily abridged and ran only six minutes.On April 2, 1951, the Russian-born American pianist Simon Barere collapsed while playing the first few bars of the concerto, in a performance with conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York.He died backstage shortly afterwards.It was to have been Barere’s first performance of the work.
Gabrielé joined the audience after the interval to witness a superb performance of Mahler’s mighty Sixth Symphony.The piano had disappeared to accommodate the vast forces in this work of evil machinations contrasted with moments of sumptuous radiance.It was conducted with great conviction and subtlety as the young forces played their hearts out in a truly mesmerising performance.The monumental first movement is the true heart of this work with it’s brooding insistence and military style attack (we had used it with devastating effect in Rome for the sound track on stage of “Mourning becomes Electra’ by Eugene O’Neil.The Andante moderato was played with sumptuous sound from the strings with a flexibility of great subtlety and ravishing beauty.
A previous concert in the YMSO series giving a platform to star soloists as well as giving invaluable experience to orchestral musicians https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/10/13/misha-kaploukhii-plays-rachmaninov-beauty-and-youthfulness-triumph/