Hands down and fingers flying, it’s the most popular piano concerto in the classical music repertoire.
Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto will help open the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s 72nd season this weekend at the Peace Center.
“Even people who don’t know the concerto have probably heard the big melody at the beginning,” said Do-Hyun Kim, the young Korean pianist who’ll be taking on the monumental work for the first time.
The key to a memorable performance of the 1875 concerto, Kim said, is for the soloist “to make it personal.”
Tchaikovsky actually didn’t provide many directions for the pianist in the score, Kim said. He leaves much to the soloist’s imagination.
Speaking by phone from his home in Cleveland, Kim said his goal is to make Tchaikovsky’s melodies sing, so they’re not “just notes on a page.”
The orchestra’s all-Tchaikovsky program, titled “Tcheers for Tchaikovsky,” also features the Russian composer’s Fifth Symphony, dating from 1888.
At the heart of Tchaikovsky’s popularity are the composer’s memorable melodies. As a testament to the timelessness of great tunes, several of Tchaikovsky’s romantic themes were transformed into pop music hits in the 20th century. The big opening melody of the First Piano Concerto that Kim referred to, for instance, was used for the song “Tonight We Love,” adapted by bandleader Tony Martin in 1941.
Along with those great themes, Tchaikovsky brings to his works a fiery spirit inspired by Russian folk dance.
Kim, at the age of 24, has already won top international prizes at world piano competitions. He has performed with Russia’s famed Mariinsky Orchestra at the 12th annual International Piano Festival in St. Petersburg. Important debuts this season include recitals in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Originally from Korea, Kim (who goes by the first name “Nick”) moved to the United States to earn his bachelor’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He earned a master’s degree this year at The Juilliard School.
The Greenville Journal’s Paul Hyde will present a free pre-concert talk one hour before each performance. Follow Paul on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
If you go
- What: Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s “Tcheers for Tchaikovsky,” featuring pianist Do-Hyun Kim
- When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21; 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 (The Greenville Journal’s Paul Hyde will present a free pre-concert talk one hour before each performance. Follow Paul on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.)
- Where: Peace Center
- Tickets: $19-$76
- Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org