Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yefim Bronfman’s CD of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto is Finally Released

“It’s one of the great piano concertos of today, and I’m very excited about it”
Yefim Bronfman

Since playing its world premiere with the New York Philharmonic in February 2007, Yefim Bronfman has often performed Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting. A year ago in Los Angeles , Salonen conducted Bronfman in the work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Deutsche Grammophon recorded it live, filling out the disc with two other piano pieces by Salonen, Helix and Dichotomie (a solo work). The recording, scheduled for U.S. release in April, is a valedictory testament to Salonen’s long and successful tenure as the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director, and a fitting document of the close 20-year friendship between the pianist and the composer/conductor.

The New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini reported of the world premiere: “Bronfman played it with … stunning command, myriad colorings, incisive articulation and subtlety. … I cannot remember the last time a premiere at the New York Philharmonic won such an enthusiastic ovation.”

Tommasini’s description of the audience reaction in New York was echoed by his Chicago colleague John von Rhein in the Tribune after Salonen and Bronfman played the work at Orchestra Hall the following April. Under the headline, “Salonen Thrills With Grand Slam of a Concerto”, von Rhein states that the work was “an obstacle course for virtuoso pianist and orchestra, Romantic in gesture if up-to-the-minute in harmonic design,” and continues: “The solo part is astonishingly difficult, but Bronfman finessed the ferocious bravura with leonine dexterity, percussive force, and coloristic subtlety. … Rarely have I heard so enthusiastic a response to a new piece here.”

Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, who attended the New York premiere, reviewed an LA performance at the end of May 2008. After giving the work at London’s BBC Proms where, Swed mentions, it was loudly cheered by the audience, in Los Angeles “Bronfman offered a breathtaking account of the concerto to close the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s program, the last of the season.” Back on home turf, so to speak, the piece struck home:

“The spectacular piano writing has a strong whiff of Prokofiev, a Bronfman specialty, at his most percussively brilliant. Even a touch of Gershwin can be heard. But in Disney [Hall] nothing sounded hackneyed. The orchestral writing is bracingly and brazenly, complex, and any intimations of earlier music are essentially shards of the past in ultramodern settings. … At the preconcert talk, Bronfman was still amusingly griping about his killer solo part, but he couldn’t hope for an ounce of sympathy after his confident, commanding performance brought the house down.”

Yefim Bronfman may now bask in some well-earned glory while he plays concerts in the capitals of Europe, as well as here in North America over the next few months.

Yefim Bronfman’s April engagements:
April 5
Berlin, Germany
Staatskapelle / Daniel Barenboim
Liszt: Concerto No. 2

April 6, 10
Salzburg, Austria
Berliner Philharmoniker / Simon Rattle
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2

April 15, 16
Toronto, Canada
Toronto Symphony Orchestra / Peter Oundjian
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2

April 23
Schenectady, NY – Union College
Solo Recital

April 25
Germantown, PA
Solo Recital

April 30 – May 2
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Alfred Honeck
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24
Salonen: Helix, Piano Concerto, Dichotomie / Yefim Bronfman, et al CD available April 7

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