Myrios classics today releases Kirill Gerstein’s most recent recording: Busoni’s monumental Piano Concerto. Recorded from live concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo in March 2017, The New York Times described their performance as: “Entirely wonderful through the whole phantasmagoric, gargantuan, mystifying, hilarious thing, Mr. Gerstein – playing with the straightest of faces under the baton of Sakari Oramo – barely mopped his brow.”

Like its creator, Ferruccio Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto Busoni, the Piano Concerto has defied classification ever since Busoni gave the world première in Berlin in 1904. As well as its reputation as both the grandest and most virtuosic work in the piano repertoire, it is generally regarded as a superhuman feat for soloist, conductor and orchestra. While Alfred Brendel talks of it as being “monstrously overwritten”, Busoni's pupil, Egon Petr, described it as “a concerto to end all concerti... so beautifully written".

With five movements that include a hymn to Allah, based on lines from the 1805 dramatic poem Aladdin by Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger and sung by an all-male chorus (men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus) in German, performances of Busoni’s ‘skyscraper’ Piano Concerto are few and far between. This live recording captures the first outing of the work in the Boston Symphony's 137-year history. As with his release of The Gershwin Moment in February 2018, Kirill's choice of repertoire reflects his efforts to champion works that are either new or, in his view, deserve re-examination: “it is morally and aesthetically unacceptable to keep playing the same pieces on and on... the name of the game is curation, and old and new must stand aside attractively.” In March, shortly after the release of the Busoni Piano Concerto, Kirill returns to Boston to give the world première of Thomas Adès’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. A Boston Symphony commission, the piece was written especially for Kirill and will be conducted by the composer.

Kirill's first recording for myrios classics was a joint disc with Tabea Zimmerman of works by Brahms, Vieuxtemps and Rebecca Clarke, released in 2010. He has since recorded a second volume with Tabea; four recital discs featuring repertoire by Schumann, Liszt, Mussorgsky and Knussen; and two concerto discs. His 2016 recording of Liszt’s Transcendental Études was chosen by The New Yorker as one of year's notable recordings; and his 2015 release of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in the composer’s own final version from 1879 was nominated for a 2016 BBC Music Magazine award. Kirill is also soloist on the Oslo Philharmonic’s recordings of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto, Op. 20 and Prometheus: the Poem of Fire conducted by Vasily Petrenko for LAWO Classics.

 

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