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An Epic Narrative: Boris Giltburg plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 3

Named the Mount Everest of piano concertos, Rachmaninoff’s third has enjoyed an increasing popularity among performers, piano competition contestants and in concert halls during the last twenty years. Also among recording labels where the long list of recordings now is expanded by contributions by a younger generation of top artists.

Since Horowitz’s recordings of the concerto set a standard for its overall interpretational conception, many claim that renditions today overlook Rachmaninoff’s original intentions which we all can listen to in his own recordings from 1935 and 1940. Not least, the composer’s tempi and ideas on dramatic culminations.

A Touching Attitude

The story tells that Gustav Mahler, who conducted the second performance of the concerto with Rachmaninoff himself in New York City, touched the composer’s heart straight away by devoting himself to the concerto until the complicated accompaniment had been practiced to the point of perfection, although he had already gone through a long rehearsal.

According to Mahler, every detail of the score was important which was an an attitude which was rare among conductors. Rachmaninoff found this very touching.

A Sensitive New Release

One of the latest Rach 3 releases – and our recommendation – is by the Queen Elisabeth Competition winner, pianist Boris Giltburg with Royal Scottich National Orchestra under Carlos Miguel Pietro on the Naxos label (2018).  As opposed to the strong formal structure of composition which the second concerto displays, the third is much more a “give and take” game which reminds us of the marvels of chamber music and with sharing motifs, melodies and sections between the movements. Thus, Giltburg’s reading is a sensitive and attending one, where the soloist shares material with the orchestra leaning on a strong communicative base rather than muscular bombasm. The lyrical passages are beautifully shaped and exquisitely articulated with the aid of the sonorous sound of the Fazioli grand used in this recording.

“… a narrative tapestry of such richness and variety that it seems to me to rival that of a great novel. The concerto’s length and scope allow it to explore a broad musical terrain, with many digressions and subplots woven into the main narrative.”
— Boris Giltburg on Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto

The album is coupled with the composer’s Corelli Variations Op. 42. Rachmaninoff himself had doubts about this composition and he often left out variations during his own performances according to the audiences’ reactions. However, it displays the ingenious composer’s handicraft in turning a simple baroque melody into a richly woven pattern of original ideas reflecting the composer’s compound compositional world. Arguably a study work as these variations were followed in a few years by another set of variations – the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43.

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Giltburg plays Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3| Play album >> | Download CD cover >> |

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Sheet music to download and print

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto 3 Op. 30 in D Minor

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3


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The Final Countdown: Leeds International Piano Competition – Finals Start Tonight

In the new edition of the Leeds International Piano Competition we have now enjoyed the diversity of the ten Semi-Finalists. Just in “the middle of the battle” Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell had the chance to ask the competition’s Co-Artistic Director, Adam Gatehouse a few questions.

Patrick Jovell: The friendly ”piano festival” feeling is evident for the audience as well as for the contestants. Which are your impressions so far?

Adam Gatehouse: We could not be more delighted with the atmosphere of a friendly festival that is being created around the competition. Many different communities in Leeds have really become involved through playing the pianos on the Piano Trail, and visiting the World’s Smallest Concert Hall in the Shipping Container. There is already a much more inclusive feeling around the city regarding the Competition that is being held.

PJ: The offered Master-classes and lectures are something we usually don’t see at the most prominent piano competitions. How were these received by the participants and competition goers?

AG: Both competitors and competition audiences have responded very favourably to the masterclasses – these have been quite an attraction for the very keen members of the audience and many competitors have thrown themselves into it with huge enthusiasm. One competitor was even dancing during his masterclass!

PJ: You have connected the competition to the international world and auditions were earlier held in Berlin, New York and Singapore. Has this effected the width of participation?

AG: We had 27 countries represented among the 68 pianists chosen for the First Round. This was a fantastic breadth of representation from across the world and surely illustrates huge global reputation of the Leeds International Piano Competition. we know no boundaries!

PJ: The five finalists now face the momentum with the jury’s choice of a concerto with orchestra. What would you say is the most important quality to communicate as a contestant in this specific and crucial moment of the competition?

AG: I think the most important thing is to communicate how they feel in their souls about the music and to bring across to all the listeners their joy in making music with this wonderful orchestra. That is what it is all about isn’t it?

PJ: We will leave you to your busy schedule now, but we know that the Leeds Competition is not closing up when Mr. Lang Lang has given out the prizes. Which Leeds projects are coming up after the competition for us to keep our eyes open for?

AG: Leeds Piano Festival in March/April 2019 in Leeds and London, and then again in 2020. And of course there will be the many appearances worldwide of our winner(s) including Liverpool next week, Eindhoven in October, Bristol in November, and then in 2019 appearances with the Halle Orchestra, at Wigmore Hall and tours of Europe (Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Denmark) and South Korea in 2019.

The Final Round

After the semifinals the Leeds International Piano Competition has now announced the five finalists who will play concertos chosen by the jury as follows:

Final 1: Friday 14 September

7.00 pm (GMT): Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia)
Mozart – Concerto in C minor K491

7.50 pm: Anna Geniushene (Russia)
Prokofiev – Concerto No. 3 in C major Op.26

9.00 pm: Mario Häring (Germany)
Beethoven – Concerto No. 1 in C major Op. 15

Final 2: Saturday 15 September

7.00 pm: Xinyuan Wang (China)
Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor Op.54

7.50 pm: Eric Lu (USA)
Beethoven – Concerto No. 4 in G major Op.58

9.00 pm: Results and Presentations

Follow the live stream at leedspiano2018.medici.tv

Read more about the Leeds Piano Competition 2018


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Beethoven Hammerklavier & Moonlight Sonatas – Murray Perahia

Murray Perahia has spent a lot of time with Beethoven throughout his long and successful career. Still, it was only when he passed the 70-year mark that he felt ready to perform and record the “Hammerklavier” — a sonata which is something of the ultimate test of a pianist’s technique, stamina, and musical understanding.

An Unsentimental but Still Expressive Experience

In his recently released album, Perahia couples the Hammerklavier Sonata, op 106 with the Moonlight Sonata, op 27 no 2; the juxtaposition of these two very contrasting works seems to highlight just how limitless and groundbreaking Beethoven was as a composer for the piano. Add Perahia’s unsentimental yet expressive playing, and suddenly even the old Moonlight turns into something of a new experience.

“… his insights into the motivations behind the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata are absolutely remarkable. Here we find an Aeolian harp – or what Beethoven’s idea of one may have been – and some imaginative associations with nothing less than Romeo and Juliet.” — Jessica Duchen

A Fast and Thrilling Ride

The Hammerklavier can feel like an overwhelming structure to get lost in, but here it’s a thrilling ride, sweeping you along. Perahia’s tempos are fast, but the music never feels hurried, thanks to his faultless technique and tasteful rubato. The slow movement has calm, tenderness and poise but it never loses its sense of direction. The sound is warm, rich and resonant without obscuring the impressive clarity of articulation — just listen to the concluding fugue, which is a real feat of transparency.

Doubtless, it’s been worth the wait to hear Perahia in this repertoire!

NEW! Click the album cover to listen to the complete album.
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Perahia Plays Beethoven Moonlight and Hammerklavier| Play album >> | Download CD cover >> |

Recording: Berlin, Funkhaus Nalepastraße, Saal 1, 11/2016 (op. 106) & 7/2017 (op. 27 no. 2)

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Sheet music to download and print

Beethoven Moonlight Sonata

Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata - piano sheet music


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How to Play Piano Chords

Do you want to know how to play chords on piano? This page will provide you with the best online chord resources. Where to look depends on your purpose.

Getting Started

Do you want to quickly figure out the notes of a specific chord? Then visit one of the many sites with piano chord charts. Here are two of the best ones:

This is a classic chord chart, easy to understand and navigate. The site also has a very good music theory section. A nice feature is the Chord finder, where you can enter note names and find out which chord they create.

The best part of this site is the function allowing you to shift the voicing of the chords. In short, you can study how a certain chord looks and sounds when the notes are not stacked closely as in most charts, but spread out in different octaves.

Learn more about Piano Chords

Would you like to learn more about piano chords and how to use them? Well, there is a lot of information out there, easy to find but perhaps not always so easy to put into practice. You need a bit of background information to understand the principles behind creating chords. Some of the piano chord sites won’t tell you enough about this. Others confuse you with too much theory where it isn’t needed. Here’s a short list of piano chord resources on the internet – all very useful, but for slightly different purposes.

Beginner’s lessons. Teaches you the major chord and the three primary chords needed to play a great number of songs. You learn the chords by memorizing how they look and feel on the keyboard. Don’t go here for theory.

In a way, this is just another chord chart. But if you already know a bit about theory, you will find the little summary of details at the bottom very useful, listing the intervals, half-steps and notes used for each chord type. You can also choose between strict or simplified spelling of the note names (which means you can avoid confusing stuff like double-sharps and double-flats etc.)

Endless resources for pianists who like to read. You can pick up a lot of theory here, but explanations are sometimes unnecessarily wordy and repetitious. Although the free content will probably last you a lifetime, there are also lots of recommendations to buy various courses or books, which some may find annoying.

One of the most popular piano chord tutorials on Youtube. Aimed at beginners – “Learn four chords to play hundreds of songs” – it’s both inspirational and useful. Among other things, it tells you how so called inversions (moving the lowest note of the chord up an octave) can be used in practice.

Chords vs Scales

In your quest to learn piano chords, sooner or later you will find out that chords and scales are more or less two sides of the same coin. In other words, if you haven’t already done so, learn a bit about the major and minor scale. Knowing how to construct a scale will also enable you to form all sorts of piano chords. Here are two short lessons explaining the basic theory behind scales:

Whole and half steps in scales:

The major scale:

Once you know a thing or two about scales and the concept of raising or lowering notes by half steps, the endless chord charts will begin to make more sense. You will be able to use the them to quickly understand different chord types rather than painstakingly memorize one chord at a time.


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Another International Chopin Competition — on Period Instruments

On the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining of independence, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute organizes the first International Chopin Competition on period instruments in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. Subsequent editions will follow every five years.

The event started on 2 September, and thirty pianists aged 18 to 34 have played in the first round. They are playing on pianos from the collections of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Erards, Pleyels, and Broadwoods from the mid 19th century), as well as originals and copies of period instruments brought in by European restorers and collectors.

The aim of the organizers is to revive the authentic sound of Chopin, by popularizing performance on period instruments. Through collaborations with Polish Television, the event is being streamed in high quality. Each performance is also available to watch afterward, providing an opportunity for music lovers all over the world to follow the competition in its entirety.

Competition Schedule

2-6 September: Stage I – recitals
8-10 September: Stage II – recitals
12-13 September: Final – concerto performances
14 September: Prize-Winners Concert
Detailed schedule >>

Follow the live stream on YouTube.

Read more at www.iccpi.pl

More Recommended Weekend Listening:

LIVE NOW: The Leeds International Piano Competition:
Read more:
Follow The Leeds International Piano Competition Online


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