“From today’s perspective, Tchaikovsky’s musical ideas—whether in the guise of symphonic bombast, or as a buoyant backdrop for dancing fairies and frolicking snowflakes—can seem like quaint artifacts,” writes Stuart Isacoff in Tuesday’s (1/17) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “Why, then, do audiences still clamor for this composer? It’s a question that may in part be answered by Russian-born conductor Semyon Bychkov’s ‘Beloved Friend—Tchaikovsky and His World,’ a festival presented by the New York Philharmonic, the Kaufman Music Center, and the 92nd Street Y, along with other participating organizations, from Jan. 24 to Feb. 11…. Tchaikovsky … prized Mozart and many European composers, elevated the art of ballet music, and still created sounds that resonated with the Russian soul…. Many of his melodies became pop hits—including ‘Our Love,’ from his ‘Romeo and Juliet’ [and] ‘Moon Love,’ sung by Frank Sinatra, from the Fifth Symphony…. [Bychkov’s] programs will offer the little-known 1879 version of the First Piano Concerto, performed by Kirill Gerstein … the seldom-performed Second Piano Concerto with the powerhouse pianist Yefim Bronfman; chamber works by Tchaikovsky and his contemporaries; the composer’s autobiographical songs; his Symphonies No. 5 and 6; Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (‘All-Night Vigil’); and more.”

Posted January 19, 2017