by Mike Telin
What a difference one note can make. In his recent, thoroughly researched article titled Tchaikovsky’s “Wrong” Note, pianist Kirill Gerstein responds to pianist Stephen Hough’s blog post stating that Hough had made “The most exciting musical discovery of [his] life: Tchaikovsky’s wrong note finally corrected.”
Gerstein writes that Hough’s article “questioned a note in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto…At the start of the concerto’s slow movement, the flute plays a phrase that consists of the notes A-flat, E-flat, F, A-flat. In his article, Hough admits that the F has always bothered him, because when the piano restates the melody a moment later, the theme has a B-flat instead of an F (A-flat, E-flat, B-flat, A-flat)…What if the F at the start of the movement was a mistake, and B-flat had been intended?”
This Thursday and Friday in Severance Hall, Kirill Gerstein will perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Vassily Sinaisky. The program also includes Liadov’s Eight Russian Folk Songs and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3.
After conducting his own scholarly research into the matter, the question is: at this week’s performances will the flute play that phrase with a B-flat as Hough suggests, or an F? “I hope it’s an F,” Gerstein told us by telephone, “and if not, I will certainly mention it. I think the evidence is fairly conclusive that it should be an F.” And has the “wrong” note ever bothered him? “No. But it is something that I have noticed in the past and that is why I decided to write something. I have always felt that it was an important and nice feature of the concerto. So I didn’t doubt it before.” [Read more…]