Another historic concert this week. Famed Czech pianist Rudolf Firkusny joins guest conductor Gyorgy Lehel and Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal in a program of music by Carl Maria von Weber, Beethoven and Bela Bartok.
Starting with the overture to Der Freischutz by Weber. Firkusny joins the orchestra in a performance of the Beethoven Piano Concerto Number 3 and the concert concludes with a performance of Bela Bartok’s Concerto For Orchestra.
Standard fare, but very well played. Firkusny was known for his elegant manner and style. He has been described as “the preeminent Czech Pianist of the 20th Century” and has recorded extensively over his long career with just about every major symphony orchestra in the world. He was also a much admired and in-demand Chamber player, counting Pierre Fournier, Gregor Piatigorsky , Janos Starker, Nathan Milstein, Erika Morini and a host of others as collaborators. He was also responsible for giving many first performances of works, including many by his fellow Czech, Bohuslav Martinu. As a performer, but also as teacher at Julliard, his roster of noted students included Yefim Bronfmann and Sara Davis and many others.
A full, rich and rewarding life which sadly ended in July of 1994. He left behind a stellar legacy of benchmark recordings which continue to be enjoyed and studied and serve as a model for future generations of pianists.
Gyorgy Lehel, the celebrated Hungarian conductor was far better known for much of his earlier career in Eastern Europe, and it wasn’t until the late 1950s that he was able to travel to Western Europe. But his many recordings with the Hungarian Radio Symphony established a reputation for him worldwide. His extensive touring, which included the U.S., Canada and Australia began in earnest in the early 1970s. Most of his guest appearances usually included at least one Bartok piece, as he did much to bring the music of his fellow Hungarian to audiences throughout the world. His death in 1989 at the relatively young age of 63 from Lung Cancer robbed the music world of a celebrated interpreter of contemporary as well as classical works.
So here they are, together with Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal in a concert broadcast on July 23, 1985.
Sit back and enjoy.