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Piano Concerto No. 3

Dear friends:

I would like to open a debate on whether the third piano concerto for our great composer Tchaikovsky be interpreted in a single movement or all three, joining the Op. 75 and Op. 79. I think the concert for piano No. 3, Op. 75 in a single movement is a work absolutely closed and terminated based on the following data:

A) Pyotr Ilyich made a dedication of the work to French pianist Louis Diémer. It is understood that a composer dedicated his work when the manuscript is completely finished.

B) There is a transcription of the work for piano four hands—perhaps his last work as a composer. If you look at his works for piano and orchestra earlier, the composer always made the transcript after the orchestration of each work already completed.

C) Tchaikovsky had thought to call this piece of Concert Allegro concert, or perhaps Konzertstück, like any piece precedent Anton Rubinstein. Thus it did to Alexander Siloti in a letter that he wrote a month before his death, expressing their doubts, as the work seemed ordinarily long. Its editor Jurgenson posted the work-after the composer's death-like concert piano No. 3, which is speculative and may be inconsistent with the intentions end of Tchaikovsky.

D) The great Russian pianists who have interpreted this piece concertante: Gilels, Zhukov, Postnikova, Leonskaja, Pletnev, Sevidov, Marshev, Scherbakov have approached the concert No. 3 in a movement as it wrote compositor.Marshev and Scherbakov also interpreted the Op. 79 but separating the Op. 79 and the Op. 75 as two different works, with the understanding that not a single composition The only one who dares to interpret it as a single work on a version Hoteev is a bit patchy.

Greetings to all persons involved in this page,

Carlos Nuez Sánchez

The very last intentions of Tchaikovsky about his 3rd concerto is theoretical because of his too early death, but the facts tends to result in a work for piano and orchestra in only one movement (Allegro de concert / Konzertstück).

It is useful to look back for similar circumstances in his early career: In the 1860ies he also destroyed finished works, but the musical materials appeared in an other opus.

The truth is, that he definitely destroyed only a little material at all. He was very economic with his ideas.

Furthermore the reutilisation of musical material was not fixed to the original genre. For example musical material from a supposedly destroyed opera was “recycled” into a symphony (2nd movement of the 2nd symphony from the opera Undina)

from a symphony was reused for a cantata (begin of the 4th movement of the 1st symphony used as the begin of the cantata for the opening of the polytechnic Exhibition)

from the supposedly destroyed orchestral ballade “Voevoda, Op. 78” was reused vice versa for a piano solo work.

It is also useful to look at the evolutionary history of the Concert Fantasia Op. 56. This work also includes musical material, which was designed for an orchestral work (suite No. 3). He was in two minds about this work.

So, it is not sure, that the musical material of the later Op. post. 79 should be finally reused categorical for a work for piano and orchestra although the concerto version for two pianos was finished by Tchaikovsky himself. Do we have the same situation with the symphony in es flat and the concerto ?

The “complete” 3rd concerto Op. 75 with Op. post. 79 is not an advancement in the style of Tchaikovsky. It’s a step back to a conventional concerto in three classical movements.

In all genre like symphonies, suites, concertos, string quartettes he modified from work to work structure and style. Particular in his last years he was very self-critical about that.

Like the interpretation of the “7th symphony” (reconstructed by Bogatyrev in the 1950ies) the interpretation of the “complete” 3rd concerto should be regarded just as an experiment, which shows a phase or status of composition. The first phase could be the symphony, the second one the “complete” concerto and the last one, authorized by Tchaikovsky himself the Op. 75 and the piano solo piece Op. 72,10 (scherzo-fantasie).

Rüdiger Herpich

Regarding the question whether the concerto should be performed as the one movement Tchaikovsky did complete or in a three movement version "completed" by another composer ( I think it was Taneyev) there is not much question. The "complete" version has little merit and consists of two other movements from the abandoned E Flat symphony, the same source as the single movement. Tchaikovsky himself converted the first movement of the symphony into a concerto movement, and it works fine. The other two movements, converted by Taneyev, work poorly as piano concerto stuff. Things should be left as Tchaikovsky left them. The single movement third concerto may be incomplete, but it is the genuine article. The three movement work is a cobbled together effort by a lesser composer.

Norman Armstrong

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013