The ones who “ruined” Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto in B-flat minor (artists and audiences) are those who believe that cool piano means fast and loud. (hetivalasz.hu)
It is therefore fashionable nowadays to speak ill of the B-flat minor concerto: sugar-coated on the outside, shallow on the inside. Such is the curse of popularity. But the B-flat minor concerto had a rough start to begin with. When Tchaikovsky played his piece for his esteemed mentor, Nikolai Rubinstein, he – as the composer puts it – vehemently criticised it, thundering like “the sound of a Jupiter Tonans”, calling it unplayable and vulgar. Tchaikovsky refused to change a single note, the only thing he crossed out was the dedication: instead of Rubinstein, he dedicated the piece to Hans von Bülow, who premiered it in Boston. A most likely tone-deaf critic wrote: “hardly destined… to become a classic”.
In the Budapest Palace of Arts on 28 June at the Budapest Festival Orchestra concert, the boyish looking Russian star, Daniil Trifonov played the B-flat minor concerto conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy, and shattered all stereotypes. Sugar-coated? More like rich chilli chocolate! Trifonov is amazing. No surprise he won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Like a madman off his chains, a child smiling at his favourite toy, like a master, in whose hands all is reborn, a Martian who popped down to Earth – Trifonov was all these, and all the while he sped and sang upon the ivory keys as if he was apologising for ever having been born. He performed three virtuoso encores, including Koschei’s Infernal Dance from The Firebird. “I don’t believe this, it’s brutal,” said someone behind me. Like an adrenalin rush with jalapenos. Death by music; now this is true art.