Concert: BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the LA Phil and Gemma New at the Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on August 3, 2021

in Concerts / Events,Music,Theater-Los Angeles


Pianist Behzod Abduraimov is coming to the Hollywood Bowl this Thursday, August 5, 2021, so prepare yourself for one of the world’s greatest pianists. In fact, the in-demand, rightfully popular 30-year-old Uzbek pianist, who was born in Tashkent in 1990 just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, may just deliver one of the most memorable concerts of the year performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Fascinatingly enough, Abduraimov is a replacement, taking over for pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason who, due to visa issues, is unfortunately unable to travel from London for this concert (the Beethoven replaces Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto). The first time I encountered this thrilling musician was also as a last-minute replacement at Disney Hall in 2014, where he walloped a white-knuckle, pulsating performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a notoriously demanding piano score with many rhythmic challenges.

I knew he was the real thing the first time I saw him; his superior skill and intelligent emotionalism are an amazing combination to watch live. They don’t appear often, these completely enrapturing soloists who combine the old-school magnetic quality of superlative technique with energetic experimentation, soul, and discovery, so you must watch him take on the First, which is chockful of arpeggios and thrilling runs.

Though Beethoven’s C major piano concerto is known today as his first, it was actually the second piano concerto he composed; it was, however, the first one that he published—hence the mix-up. Beethoven began composing it in 1794, two years after he had arrived in Vienna, intending it to be a virtuoso showcase for his own piano playing. He seems to have completed an initial version of the concerto sometime in the following year shortly before premiering it himself. Indeed, Beethoven’s friend Franz Wegeler reports that he composed the finale “only on the afternoon two days before the performance […] Four copyists sat in the hallway working from the manuscript sheets he handed over to them one at a time.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Beethoven would continue to refine the concerto until it reached its final form in 1800. Unlike his earlier concerto in B-flat major, in which he consciously imitated the styles of Mozart and Haydn, this piece shows the emergence of Beethoven’s own unmistakable voice with its bold melodic ideas and daring harmonies.

The rest of the program at the Bowl remains unchanged: conducted by Gemma New with the LA Phil, the program begins with Sarah Gibson’s warp and weft, a fascinating Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra commission. A perfect bookend is Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, Rhenish, as it’s the last symphony composed by Schumann, but not the last published.

photos courtesy of LA Phil; headshot photo by Christian Fatu


Los Angeles Philharmonic
Gemma New, conductor
Bezhod Abduraimov, pianist
The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.
Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 8pm
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit The Hollywood Bowl

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