János Balázs (piano)
Conductor: András Keller
Tchaikovsky once again takes centre stage for the by now traditional pre-Christmas concert of Concerto Budapest: not only do we have popular excerpts from The Nutcracker, a work that virtually defines the season and requires little introduction, but two far more rarely heard works by the Russian composer are also on the programme. The massively popular piano concerto in B-flat minor demands a virtuoso artist right from the solo part in the first movement and we can be sure that Kossuth Prize-winner János Balázs is up to the challenge. ‘Dreams of a Winter Journey’ and ‘Land of Desolation, Land of Mists’ – Tchaikovsky supplied the first and second movements of his Symphony No. 1 with these expressive and highly evocative titles, while a popular Russian folk melody is given an important part in the finale. The composer new to his career did not extract much joy from this work because by the end of the creative process he was totally exhausted – mentally and physically – added to which his professor, Rubinstein, virtually dismissed the symphony all together. However, this leaves all the more pleasure for a modern audience of the ‘Dreams of Winter’.