ILLIA OVCHARENKO PLAYS BORTKIEWICZ PIANO CONCERTO OPUS 28 FOR THE LEFT HAND ONLY IN BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) ON FEBRUARY 19, 2023
Symphony Orchestra van de Koninklijke Munt Schouwburg – Conductor ALAIN ALTINOGLU – Piano ILLIA OVCHARENKO
De Koninklijke Munt Schouwburg/La Monnaie is staging this concert as an expression of its solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Visit: https://www.lamonnaiedemunt.be/en/mmm-online/2595-la-monnaie-in-solidarity-with-ukraine
Visit: https://www.lamonnaiedemunt.be/en/mmm-online/2664-a-concerto-for-the-left-hand-and-for-ukraine to read the interview with Illia Ovcharenko
Ukrainian born and New York based pianist Anna Shelest recorded some fine interpretations of Bortkiewicz’ piano music on YouTube (Nocturne opus 24 no.1, Dance of the young girls (opus 37 no 3) and Dance of the three sisters (opus 37 no 8) [piano reduction by the composer of his ballet “1001 Nights” for orchestra])
New recording by Slawomir Wilk
On this recording Slawomir Wilk plays The Fantasiestücke opus 61, Lyrica Nova opus 59, 7 Preludes opus 40 and Piano Sonata no. 2 opus 60
Bortkiewicz played opus 61 no. 1 (Warum?), no. 2 (Ein Traum) and no. 3 (…und das Erwachen) during the 17th meeting of the Bortkiewicz Gemeinde on 8 January 1951 in Vienna. During this concert he revealed that these piano pieces were written while he was hiding in a bomb shelter in 1944 in Vienna. Especially opus 61 no 3 (…und das Erwachen) seems to portray the bombing of the city musically.
Important new dissertation on Bortkiewicz
Bortkiewicz’s Piano concerto no. 1 opus 16 played in Saratoga, California on March 8, 2020
The Saratoga (California) Symphony will perform Bortkiewicz’s Piano Concerto No. 1 opus 16 on March 8, 2020, 15:00h at the McAfee Center for the Performing Arts, Saratoga. Soloist: Ron Brickman; Conductor: Jason Klein.
For more information please visit: Bortkiewicz played in Saratoga
The first USA-performance of the piano concerto no. 1 in B flat major opus 16 was given on Saturday 13 February 1915 in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Soloist was Margaret Volavy (1886-1951), accompanied by The Russian Symphony Society conducted by Modest Altschuler (1873-1963). Another performance was on Sunday 18 March 1915 by Jessy Weiskopf, piano and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Emil Oberhoffer (1867-1933).
Further performences were on:
– Wednesday 28 November 1917 (Gustav Adolphus Marius Illmer (1888-1956), piano and the Catholic Choral Club of Baltimore conducted by the Rev. Leo P. Manzetti (1867-1942);
– Sunday 12 February 1922 (Frances Nash (1890-1971), piano and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Emil Oberhoffer (1867-1933);
– Friday 24 December 1926 (Rae Bernstein, piano and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frederick Stock (1872-1942);
– Friday 6 July 1934 (Elizabeth Travis Behnke, piano and The Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979);
The last know performance so far of the concerto in the USA was on Saturday 1 November 2003 by the Tulare County Symphony Orchestra (nowadays called the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra) (California) conducted by Ukrainian conducter Mikola Sukach and as soloist Ukrainian pianist Vyacheslav Zubkov.
FIRST RECORDING OF BORTKIEWICZ’S SONGS OPUS 23 (Verlaine Lieder), 56 (Im Park) and 62 (Sternflug des Herzens)
The Bortkiewicz song cycles opus 23, 56 and 62 have been recorded for the first time and recently released by Orhpée Classics. The songs are beautifully sung by Krzysztof Szumański who is the executive producer of the recording project as well. Together with pianist Bojana Dimković, they’ve brought to light these forgotten masterpieces of Bortkiewicz.
See for more information: Orphée Classics
Ukrainian conductor Mykola Sukach recently published his book on Bortkiewicz. See for open source content Mykola Sukach – Bortkiewicz
DECEMBER 2018 – Piano Classics release – the complete Trapman recordings of Bortkiewicz solo piano music in a single volume.
PIANO CLASSICS SAYS ABOUT THIS RELEASE: “Landmark recordings now available for the first time in a box: the complete Trapman recordings of Bortkiewicz solo piano music in a single volume.
A composer-pianist after his time, Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) continued to write music in the post-Romantic Russian tradition well into the 20th century: based on Liszt and Chopin, influenced by Tchaikovsky and Russian folklore, and insulated from Modernism. His craftsmanship was meticulous, his imagination colourful and sensitive, his piano writing as idiomatic as one would expect from a performer coached in the grand manner of 19th-century virtuosity. His voice is strongly established in even his early works: preludes, studies and ballades followed, as well as two grandiloquent sonatas.
Many of Bortkiewicz’s manuscripts ended up in the possession of his good friend, the Dutch pianist Hugo van Dalen. In time the Dutch Musical Institute acquired them and engaged Klaas Trapman to make these recordings between 2002 and 2006. Reissued here complete, they are complemented by new and detailed booklet notes from the Bortkiewicz scholar Wouter Kalkman. For Trapman himself, this project was a labour of love: ‘Bortkiewicz has his own personal voice,’ he remarked in an interview. ‘It is the atmosphere of deep nostalgia, the longing for past joys. This emotional side, blended with his strong melodic gifts, makes his music attractive and appealing to many listeners.’
‘Trapman approaches the music of Bortkiewicz in the manner of the best interpreters of Rachmaninoff, avoiding over dramatization and sentimentality… under Trapman’s hands, [the music] always sounds elegant and well made.’ Fanfare (Sept/Oct 2005)
This 6CD-set presents the complete Trapman recordings of solo piano works of Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952), one of the most unjustly overlooked composers.
During his life, Bortkiewicz was oppressed and persecuted by both Soviet and Nazi regimes. A brilliant pianist and composer, he was also a refugee and a survivor of two world wars and a civil war.
The style of Bortkiewicz’s music derives from the great Romantic composers of the 19th century. He adopted Liszt’s rich and brilliant piano writing, Chopin’s lyricism and humanity, the imagery of Schumann’s character pieces and Wagner’s imaginative harmony. His captivating melodies and sweeping pianism make his piano music highly attractive, deserving a far wider recognition.
Dutch pianist Klaas Trapman is a champion of lesser known romantic piano music, having performed works by Alkan, Henselt, Tournemire, Szymanowski and Medtner. He wrote extensively about the piano music of Bortkiewicz.”
For more information: please visit the Piano Classic Website
The CD is available on Amazon
APRIL 2018 – AFTER ALMOST 70 YEARS BORTKIEWICZ’S FANTASIESTÜCKE OPUS 61 APPEAR IN PRINT AT BOOSEY & HAWKES
During the Second World War Bortkiewicz wrote his 6 Fantasiestücke opus 61 for piano solo. No. 1 (Why?), no. 2 (A Dream) and no. 3 (Awakening) were written in a bomb shelter in Vienna and seem to reflect personal impressions of war. Bortkiewicz played four of the Fantasiestücke during a solo recital in Vienna in April 1944. The Neues Wiener Tagblatt from 28 April 1944 (page 3) reviewed the recital: “In einem Solistenkonzert hörte man Musik von Sergei Bortkiewicz: Die Sonate op. 60 zunächst dann vier Phantasiestücke, und endlich einen Zyklus von Etüden, durchaus trefflich geformte, melodiös-charakteristische Stücke. […]” Bortkiewicz played no. 1-3 also during the XVIIth meeting of the Bortkiewicz Gemeinde on January 8, 1951.
In March 1946 Bortkiewicz wrote to Hugo van Dalen “.. my favorite child, the Piano Sonata Op. 60, 6 Piano pieces and 3 Mazurkas, which the publisher N. Simrock would have published 3 years ago, if the damned war had not come in between, – are not there. One cannot even correspond with Germany.” On April 29, 1948 he wrote in a very dissapointed mood: “By a roundabout way I received from N. Simrock and returned to him my Sonata Op. 60, 3 Mazurkas, 6 Piano Pieces. And now he writes me that he still does not have enough paper.” On June 1951 he reminded Hugo van Dalen of his financial situation: “N. Simrock has not yet published this sonata, 6 piano pieces and 3 mazurkas, proofs of which have been printed long ago, because of the unfortunate position of the Leipzig publisher and difficulties with money and mail delivery. It is a misfortune for me. Nothing earned, nothing sold for endless years!” On June 28, 1952, almost half a year before his death, Bortkiewicz wrote to Hugo van Dalen for the last time: ”I have written much that is new but there is no contact possible with my Leipzig publishers. Even the printed sonata, 6 piano pieces, 3 mazurkas lie with N. Simrock and have not appeared.”
After World War II Leipzig belonged to the Soviet Occupation Zone, and from 1949 to East Germany, and publishers required authorization to issue music scores. The publishing house of Benjamin/Simrock/Rahter never received such authorization, and was placed in receivership in 1951, which lasted until 1956 (only in 1992 was the company officially dissolved). In 1963 its archive was transferred to the Saxon State Archive. As a result, the score of the Fantasiestücke Op 61, which Bortkiewicz sent to Simrock around 1948 remained unpublished after the composer’s death.
In 2013 the prints Bortkiewicz mentioned in his letters to Hugo van Dalen were discovered in the Saxon State Archive in Leipzig. In 2016 Hyperion issued a CD containing the world premiere recordings of the 6 Fantasiestücke opus 61, the 3 Mazurkas opus 64 and the Jugoslawische Suite opus 58 by New York based pianist Nadejda Vlaeva (please visit Nadejda Vlaeva plays Bortkiewicz)
Visit: Nadejda Vlaeva plays Ein Traum opus 61 no. 2
Now in April 2018, Boosey & Hawkes has published the full score of the 6 Fantasiestücke opus 61. For more information please visit BOOSEY & HAWKES – BORTKIEWICZ FANTASIESTUCKE
MARCH 2018 – REISSUE OF PIANO CONCERTO NO 2 and 3
Introduction by Piano Classics: Recent years have seen a slow but steady revival of the music of Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877‐1952), Ukrainian composer and pianist, oppressed by the Nazis and Soviets, refugee and survivor of two World Wars, composer of wonderfully rich, appealing and colourful music in the Romantic tradition of Chopin, Liszt and early Scriabin. This CD contains the 2nd and 3rd Piano Concerto. The 2nd piano concerto is for the left hand, written for pianist Paul Wittgenstein who lost his right arm in WWI. It was Wittgenstein’s favourite concerto of the many works he commissioned (a.o. by Ravel). The 3rd Piano Concerto, written in 1926, is headed “Per aspera ad astra” (through hardship to the stars), which is presented in the gradual unfolding from a dark C minor to a high and luminous C major at the end of the work, including organ and bells, the affirmation of light conquering darkness. Excellent performances by pianist Stefan Doniga and the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Porcelijn. “Stefan Doniga drives the music onward fearlessly and make the best possible case for both works” (Gramophone).
AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE (July/August 2009, p. 64-65) reviewer HALLER described the CD as “outstanding” and “..I can assure you it’s worth every penny.”
Piano Classics – Piano Concerto no. 2 and 3
PAVEL GINTOV‘s Bortkiewicz CD has been reviewed by Dutch Piano Magazine PIANIST (December 2017, p. 92). His Bortkiewicz CD was awarded a 10! Basia Jaworski writes: “Lieve mensen: deze cd is gewoon grandioos! […] De Oekraïense pianist Pavel Gintov speelt zeer beeldig, zijn aanslag is soepel zijn interpretatie vurig.” (Dear folks, this CD is simply monumental! […] Ukrainian pianist Pavel Gintov plays expressive, his touch is smooth and his interpretation fiery.”)
Pavel Gintov will play Bortkiewicz’s piano concerto no. 3 opus 32 in the National Philharmonic Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 13, 2018 with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine under the baton of conductor Volodymyr Sirenko.
HENRI SIGFRIDSSON played on 1 and 2 December 2017 Bortkiewicz’s piano concerto no. 2 for the left hand only at the Kraków Philharmonic Hall in Kraków (Poland) with the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe. Henri Sigfridsson will play this concerto again in the Apollo Theater in Siegen (Germany) on 28 February 2018 with the Philharmonie Südwestfalen under the baton of conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe.
FOLKE NAUTA released his CD “Russian piano music for the left hand only” (Russian piano music for the left hand). On this CD Nauta plays Bortkiewicz’s Epithalame opus 65 no. 3 and -amongst other works for the left hand only- his beautiful transcription for the left hand only of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise opus 34 no. 14.
NADEJDA VLAEVA PLAYED BORTKIEWICZ’S SECOND PIANO CONCERTO OPUS 28 (for the left hand only and commissioned in 1922/23 by Paul Wittgenstein) in Kiev on October 24, 2017
Nadejda Vlaeva plays 2nd Piano Concerto opus 28
On October 25 it was 65 years ago Bortkiewicz died in Vienna. In remembrance of this day Nadejda Vlaeva played the Russische Weisen und Tänze opus 31 in Kiev
Nadejda Vlaeva playing Russische Weisen und Tänze opus 31
APRIL 2017 – Chihiro Ishioka plays parts of opus 30 (Aus Andersens Märchen), opus 35 (Ein Roman), 59 (Lyrica Nova) and 60 (Piano sonata no. 2) on YouTube
Aus Andersens Märchen −Ein musikalisches Bilderbuch− Op. 30 No. 1, 9, 10
Ein Roman für Klavier Op. 35
Lyrica nova Op. 59
Sonata no. 2 Op. 60
Première performance of Bortkiewicz’s orchestral TANZSUITE OPUS 57 (score discovered in november 2013 in the Saxon State Archive in Leipzig) during the Bortkiewicz festival in Kiev in March 2017
Opus 25 no. 1 and 3 for piano and cello played during the Bortkiewicz festival in Kiev in March 2017
Three pieces for cello and piano opus 25
SEPTEMBER 2016 – ALFONSO SOLDANO PLAYS BORTKIEWICZ
It is quite puzzling why, until very recently, the music of Bortkiewicz has not been widely known and loved: his high Romantic style makes him a natural to the legacy of Tchaikovsky, and he was a close contemporary of Rachmaninov. Born of Polish parentage, and later an Austrian citizen, Bortkiewicz lived in many parts of Europe but always considered himself truly Russian. This recording gives a wide sample of his work and will surely whet the appetite for more. Performed by Alfonso Soldano in his CD debut for Divine Art (dda 25142), a professor at the Conservatorio G. Braga in Teramo, Italy; he is also the biographer of the composer, a role which has given him unique insight into the mind and spirit of Bortkiewicz.
The release date of the CD is 14 October 2016. You will hear the following program on the CD: Lyrica Nova, Op. 59; Etude in D flat major, Op. 15 No. 8; Trois Morceaux, Op. 24 – No. 1 Nocturne; Esquisses de Crimée, Op. 8; Prelude, Op. 13 No. 5; Prelude, Op. 40 No. 4; Prelude, Op. 66 No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 60
Visit: Alfonso Soldano plays Nocturne op 24 no 1 (Diana)
“…DDA 25142 Bortkiewicz Piano Music
This is Volume 12 in Divine Art’s Russian Piano Music series, and it joins other fine recordings of this composer, whose music will appeal immediately to anyone who enjoys the music of Rachmaninoff. […] Soldano’s work here and the recording and booklet qualities all stand up fully to the other recordings. Soldano (b. 1986) is one of the last longtime students of Aldo Ciccolini. He clearly has an great affinity for this music and has also written a biography of Bortkiewicz. I have enjoyed this many times..” James Harrington (American Record Guide, USA)
“..Recently is appeared a CD that is an ideal mean and has an interpretation in which the music of Bortkiewicz is played optimally. This is thanks to the pianist Alfonso Soldano, which expresses this music with such devotion and deep intensity such as to enchant each listener. Soldano is also a pianist whose technical skill plays a sovereign role, and not have any problems with the performance of highly virtuosic music. The touching emotion that permeates the ‘interpretation of Soldano is simply disarming..” Grete Catus, (The New Listener, Deutschland)
“… This is absolutely a fantastic disc. If you’re not already acquainted with Bortkiewicz—and I wasn’t either, except for his Piano Concerto No. 1 on Volume 4 of Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series—prepare to be transported to a place of spell-binding splendor. […] If I could, l’d buy up every copy of this album and send it to every Fanfare subscriber; that’s how much I love it. If you’re as susceptible to this music as I am, you will love it too; I promise..” Jerry Dubins (Fanfare), USA
August 2016 – NADEJDA VLAEVA PLAYS BORTKIEWICZ IN CARNEGIE HALL, NEW YORK
NADEJDA VLAEVA will play Bortkiewicz opus 61 (Fantasiestücke) and 64 (3 Mazurkas) during her Carnegie Hall recital on September 20, 2016 in New York
Nadejda Vlaeva’s interpretation of Ein Traum, opus 61 no. 2 is now on YouTube
Visit: Nadejda Vlaeva plays Ein Traum opus 61 no. 2
Dutch Pianist FOLKE NAUTA played Epithalame opus 65 no. 3 on Dutch television on March 6, 2016. Bortkiewicz composed Epithalame for the left hand only. The dedicatee of the work, pianist Rudolf Horn, premiered the work on June 15, 1934 on Berlin radio. In its original form it was called Russischer Hochzeitsang.
Visit: Folke Nauta plays Epithalame
In exploring worthwhile but forgotten Russian repertoire, violinist Sergey Levitin’s brilliant and expressive playing brings us Sergei Bortkiewicz’s expansive Violin Concerto in D minor (dedicated to his friend and violonist Frank Smit), full of Romantic ardour in the Grand Manner. Bortkiewicz came from a privileged background, but the political turmoil of Russia and Europe in the twentieth century saw him twice made homeless and finally settling in Austria. The Violin Concerto is coupled with the ambitious half-hour Symphonic poem Othello, a vivid and compelling musical tapestry encapsulating the essence of Shakespeare’s tragedy, in which Desdemona’s theme – a warmly harmonised melody for strings – is strongly reminiscent of Tchaikovsky. WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS – RECORDED IN SACD – DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7323
New York based Bulgarian pianist Nadejda Vlaeva performs a programme of alluring piano works by Sergei Bortkiewicz, many of them only recently discovered and here recorded for the first time.
‘Vlaeva plays all this with commanding authority. She can sing, she can charm, she can thunder, and she has a wonderfully innate rubato that suits Bortkiewicz’s idiom to perfection’ (Gramophone)
The five stars are for both the repertoire and the gentle persuasive way Vlaeva plays this sadly way-too-little-known late-Romantic Russian … more Bortkiewicz, Hyperion—we can’t get enough!’ (Pianist)
‘The playing is absolutely first class, not only in terms of technique, and Vlaeva consummately brings great power to the table when called for, while still ready to produce the most delicate pianissimo when needed’ (MusicWeb International)
One thought on “NEWS”
The Saratoga (California) Symphony will perform Bortkiewicz’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on March 8, 3:00 at the McAfee Center for the Performing Arts, Saratoga. Soloist: Ron Brickman; Conductor: Jason Klein. I have run across no reference to a previous performance of this concerto in the USA. Please correct what I trust is a misapprehension or oversight. Many thanks!