How many piano concertos can you fit in one concert?

How many piano concertos can you fit in one concert?


norman lebrecht

May 01, 2015

Valery Gergiev is conducting all five by Prokofiev at one BBC Prom – a piece of swagger programming that lacks poetry or coherent reasoning.

Now Gergiev best mate and fellow-Putinist Denis Matsuev has announced he will play all three Tchaikovsky piano concertos in one concert next week in Yekaterinburg.

The concert has been given the title ‘Triumph’. Let’s hope the trend does not spread further.



  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    It is possible. Pianists are often used to recitals, so multiple concerti can work depending on the theme of the program. I have done Chopin 1 and Prokofiev 3 in a program focused on a Chopin organization, and did a program with the American Symphony consisting of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s “Peanuts Gallery”, Gershwin’s”Rhapsody in Blue”, and Balakirev’s “Islamey Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra” in a single performance. It all depends on the nature of the project. (Once the Naxos cd is released next year, I will propose all four pieces in one show–Gershwin, Ellington, Keith Emerson and Neil Sedaka. It’s a thematic classical contemporary focus).

  • Mikey says:

    I don’ see this as any worse than all those “anniversary” concerts where they do nothing but a single composer, or concerts with a single interminable symphony whose final cadence refuses to die away.

    The Prokoviev piano concerti are brilliant works, most of them masterpieces of the form. They actually all fit into one – admittedly long but still not terribly overblown – concert program.

    I’m not commenting on the artists involved, but on the idea of a concert of this sort. I’d go hear it – played by anyone else.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      I agree only in part: a concert with a single composer can have a welcome focus. Dietrich Fischer-Diskau did that in his recitals and I loved it. But the sequence of works was still well thought out, and was definitely not simply numeric, as would be the case in Prokofiev’s piano concertos.

  • Anonne says:

    I can think of better titles for such concerts than “Triumph,” of which “Overkill” would be the kindest and politest.

  • Bob Thomas says:

    Hmmm … While from a length point of view, the five Prokofiev concerti seem like overkill, putting all three Tchaikovsky concerti in one program is about the length of a normal concert. I think the idea of comparing how Tchaikovsky evolved in his compositional style for piano concerti is worth hearing, especially with Matsuev playing them — I’ll be interested in which version of No. 2 they will be playing.

    • Hilary says:

      There are some wonderful things in 2and3 of Tchaikovsky but playing them all sequentially would chart a decline. Hackneyed and overplayed it may be, but let us never forget the originality and freshness of no.1. It’s on another level altogether than the two successors.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    He’s done the Prokofiev evening before at the Mariinsky – no problem.

  • erich says:

    Rubinstein, even towards the end of his career, occasionally played 3 concertos in a concert.

    • pianoronald says:

      When will someone play all Mozart piano concertos in one concert? All 27 of them (leaving out K 242 and 365)

  • pianoronald says:

    Correction; all 25 of them.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    It’s a concert they sell tickets to, right?

    No one is required to buy one and attend, right?

    It’s not a law they are passing that requires everyone else to program the same way, right?

    Call it an experiment. Probably a more interesting one than most of the “experimental music” we have heard over the last 50 years and one that you don’t have to worry will be repeated very often.

    • Hilary says:

      I suspect that some of the music you like was regarded as experimental at one time,and the Lexicon of Musical invective (complied by Sloninsky) charts the horrified reaction to it.

  • anon says:

    Matsuev doing all three Tchaikovsky concertos in one concert? Didn’t Tchaikovsky suffer enough in his own lifetime?

  • RW2013 says:

    For me it would be a treat, not a chore.

  • John Borstlap says:

    These type of concerts in Russia are instructed by Putin himself, to intimidate American and European pianists, and to show that Russia is not something to play with. It’s part of his foreign policy, like Gergiev being sent-out into the West with Russian music to undermine European musical supremacy.

    • Olaugh Turchev says:

      Next Stewie Goodyear’s Beethoven marathon’s were instructed by NATO to show off Putin?