Ringing in the New Year, pianist Inon Barnatan joined the Minnesota Orchestra for two performances of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and he’ll close out the month of January in a similar fashion. Once again, he performs as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto for a three-city Midwest tour with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, with stops at Indiana University-Bloomington (Jan. 23), the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana (Jan. 25) and Symphony Center, for an SCP Orchestras series concert on Jan. 28.
The concerto is associated with a series of firsts. American pianist Van Cliburn won the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 with his performance of this work. His subsequent recording with the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, led by Kiril Kondrashin, was the first classical-music album to sell a million copies. Later, the disc won, at the first-ever Grammy Awards, the category of best classical performance, instrumentalist. “It’s one of these pieces that, to me, seems like it’s always been there,” said fellow virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin. “One simply cannot imagine that it didn’t always exist. It’s so fine, so true, so wonderful. It will never die.”