Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was always one of my favorites growing up. I took pains to avoid listening to my own repertoire on long drives to and from competitions to maintain my own focus. As this work was not then part of my repertoire, we often ended up listening to the Concerto paired with his Violin Concerto in the car. I can still hum the violin concerto from beginning to end as a result. They are both robust, heroic works and couldn’t we all use a bit of hope and optimism just about now?
Music is a universal language and it’s about the connections between individuals. Yes, Tchaikovsky was waving the (old) Russian flag here in the music — I go into the subject of nationalism in music in more depth in a recent publication on Art and Music for Vantage magazine which just came out – but the sentiments and emotions expressed here are more in the spirit of bringing listeners together — almost like the feeling we got from watching the Winter Olympics which just came to a close recently.
At the performance, I like to think we are given an opportunity to feel a sense of unity by celebrating and enjoying the results of everyone’s efforts and flights of the spirit regardless of where we are from. Music has always been and will hopefully always remain a diverse and multicultural effort. That is part of what makes it so uplifting and worth advocating for — it remains for me one of the crowning achievements of civilized society.
–Tamami Honma, piano soloist