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Tchaikovsky, Grieg: Piano Concertos / Stewart Goodyear

Release Date: 06/10/2014
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30035
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ,  Edvard Grieg Performer:  Stewart Goodyear Conductor:  Stanislav Bogunia Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech National Symphony Orchestra Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins.

This album marks Stewart Goodyear's debut on Steinway & Sons and is the first orchestral recording released on the label. The Canadian pianist is a notable concert soloist and has performed with New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many. In 2013, Stewart Goodyear gave a series of marathon performances in the US of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas performing the complete cycle in a single, eleven-hour performance at each venue.

Album Credits:
Recorded July 16-17, 2013 at CNSO Studio No. 1, Prague
Producer: Milan Puklicky
Engineer: Stanislav Baroch
Assistant Engineer: Vojtech
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Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Oberlander Group
Photography: Anita Zvonar
Piano Technician: Marcel Pindel
Piano: Steinway Model C (Hamburg)

What immediately strikes you about this recording is not the execution of the familiar opening pages of the Tchaikovsky but the unfamiliar sound picture. Instead of the usual spacious acoustic of an empty concert hall, we have the smaller, clear focus of Prague’s CNCO Studio 1 and, as if to complement it, a Steinway Model C, beautifully voiced (and recorded) but a full 18 inches smaller than the conventional Model D. Without reducing the drama of the music, it allows the detail of this symphonic score to be heard with almost chamber-like lucidity, aided by the finely judged balance between the Czech players and the talented Stewart Goodyear.

Everything from this young Canadian is skilfully enunciated with unobtrusive, conversational phrasing (he and Bogunia appear to be on good terms) and sparingly pedalled, no better illustrated than by the prestissimo section of the second movement, presented not as a bravura babble but as a coherent, deftly articulated narrative. It may not be a Tchaik First to set the pulse racing (Argerich, Richter, Horowitz, Matsuev) but, to mix sporting metaphors, it’s a high-octane performance that punches above its weight.

As does the Grieg, another reading that transcends the bounds of the studio. In fact, I’d put the finale up among the best (Lipatti, Andsnes, de Greef), with Goodyear and Bogunia bringing a delightful, light-footed buoyancy to the dance theme and wringing the most from the concerto’s glorious peroration. Here and in the Tchaikovsky, mirabile dictu, the piano is not overwhelmed by the orchestra but ends the contest on equal terms. Goodyear clearly has a big future.
-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

"Accompanied by the Czech National Symphony, the virtuoso’s unique vision and renowned technique are fully revealed during his exemplary performances of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 and Grieg’s Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16. Recorded at CNSO Studio in Praque, Czechoslovakia, under the direction of Maestro Stanislav Bogunia, this wonderous program compels you to listen from the soaring introductory theme of the Tchaikovsky to the lively jumping rhythms and coda of the Grieg. Mr. Goodyear is a sensitive and imaginative interpreter who brings this great music to life on this auspicious and superbly engineered orchestral debut... From the very beginning, Mr. Goodyear and the orchestra unleash Tchaikovsky’s impressive spectrum of colors and nuance to immediately captivate the listener. Throughout each movement, Mr. Goodyear’s electrifying technique and mesmerizing command of this great concerto’s rhapsodic feelings, operatic and balletic gestures proves he is no one hit wonder. The grandeur is there, but so is the simplicity and Mr. Goodyear plays both with beauty and charisma. During the Grieg, Mr. Goodyear is on fire emotionally and technically. He enchants the listener with his expert pianism from the exposition to the coda. From the opening themes to the recapitulation, Mr. Goodyear handles the tempo changes, accompaniments and changes in volume with the finesse of a veteran concert pianist. He plunges into Grieg’s powerful surprises, giving you his best in the development. To conclude, he rips across the keyboard during the third movement leading the orchestra in a dance, before the second theme returns and closes the concerto. It is a brilliant collaboration between pianist and orchestra that will live on because of this exceptional recording." -- Paula Edelstein, AXS

"Listening to these performances by Stewart Goodyear, the word that kept coming to mind was “impressive”. And Goodyear does indeed impress with his bullseye accuracy, rapid fingerwork, and an overriding sense of confidence borne from the mastery of his instrument."
-- Victor Carr,

"[T]he familiar combination of the 1875 Tchaikovsky and 1868 Grieg Concertos receives genuinely refreshed readings from Canadian virtuoso Stewart Goodyear, who openly relishes their “greatest hits” status. The scale of the first movement projects its often seamless power, given Tchaikovsky’s penchant of repeating every linear phrase twice to assure us of its “classical” architecture. The Czech National Symphony proceeds just as committed to Tchaikovsky’s sense of grandeur, blasting the tuttis better to contrast with Goodyear’s intimate, pearly play in the brief and then extended cadenza of the movement. The melodic antiphons likewise palpitate with rhapsodic, erotic energy, not so monumental as those of Richter and Karajan, but certainly within a strongly bravura tradition traceable to virtuosi like Rubinstein and Horowitz.

Alert to the [Grieg] Concerto’s synthesis of Norwegian folk materials and the nostalgia present in Peer Gynt, Goodyear makes plastic magic of the melodic tissue without having become affectively overbearing. The presto passages retain their articulate capacity to serve as thematic transitions as well virtuoso filigree, and Goodyear has a strong, lucid trill. The first movement’s natural, even conservative, sway between A Minor and C Major flows effortlessly, moving in fine periods to the studied cadenza that conveys a Nordic confidence in every bar. The marvelous Adagio in D-flat Major has always the sense of the oriental ink-painting, the sense of space and musical matter in mysterious juxtaposition. The sheer rhythmic acuity of the music, along with Goodyear’s deft realization, make for repeated listening."
-- Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition
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