Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No Concerto for You!


On April 9, 2013, it will be ten years since my Omsk performance of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano & Strings with maestro Yuri Nikolaevsky (see photos), a colleague and friend of the composer, who sadly passed away in November 2003.

This concert was recorded despite the professional crew not showing up and during all these years, over 30,000 hits and supportive comments from strangers have made this performance of the Concerto the most viewed on YouTube!

Optimistic, we were expecting that at home in Canada, at least some organization would have been eager to introduce this repertoire to its audience.

In 2004, we submitted the idea to our friend maestro Eri Klas, a personal friend of Schnittke who also premiered some of his most emblematic works, who agreed to conduct the reputable local Radio Orchestra in a Russian program including the Concerto. As details were being ironed out, we invited the CBC producer to a little gathering at home with our representative. A jubilant mention of Khrennikov around a glass of wine should have made us suspicious! A week later, we were informed that the producer was going after the maestro, behind our back, looking at bringing a better known Canadian pianist... Honest people withdrew and the concert never happened. Welcome to Vancouver: so much politics for 30 minutes of music!

A few years later, my first Schnittke CD in hand to back up our proposal, we suggested to the defender of contemporary repertoire, Grammy Award winner and VSO Music Director, Bramwell Tovey to play the concerto for the tenth anniversary of Schnittke’s passing in 2008.

Silence. Not a piece by Schnittke that year and since.

So we decided to record our own tribute through the Schnittke/Bach CD, never played on CBC Radio 2 to this day.

Finally, following a 2010 success in Omsk, we sent the live recording CD of my Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 performance to the VSO Artistic Director. After a few months waiting for an answer, we sought to at least receive what we deemed a minimum courtesy, which is a written reply; at last, we were sent packing, officially! On the positive side, I am glad to report we do not get evening phone calls enticing us to renew subscription anymore.

So now you do understand why I am particularly happy to announce that in May 2014 I’ll be flying to Russia and performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Omsk Academic Symphony Orchestra, in their brand new concert hall!

P.S.: On May 4, 2013, Denise Ball CBC producer of Radio 2 program "In Concert" quite predictably awarded a "disc of the week" to Valentina Lisitsa's Rachmaninov Concerti Decca CD set, especially now that "Lisitsa now has it all — legions of fans and a legitimate concert career. She's also a true trailblazer for classical music. The only question is whether others will follow her lead."

Well let's take her to her word and see how long it will take for the recently uploaded 2010 live Rachmaninov Concerto No. 2 on my CBC Music artist page to make it on the CBC Radio 2 waves... (I'm not holding my breath)

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