The duo presented a programme of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, and two infrequently performed works; Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 1 and Sibelius’ “King Christian II” Suite. Alexander also performed an encore of Schumann’s Kinderszenen No. 1.
“One hopes audiences won’t wait so long next time to hear King Christian and Rachmaninoff’s earliest symphony on a CSO program. And ideally, they’ll see Thomas Søndergård and Alexander Gavrylyuk back in Chicago even sooner.” Hannah Edgar, Chicago Classical Review
“These selections from a lesser-known work of Sibelius, with Søndergård in expressive and firm control at the helm, were played with an acute sensitivity to mood and texture, a transparency and clarity that were captivating. The opening Nocturne from King Christian II is almost deliriously lyrical, while the deeply contrasting closing Ballade is heavily dramatic. The CSO flowed from one extreme to the other with rhythmically incisive and beautifully shaped interpretations, particularly evident in the spicy tambourine-accented climax of the Nocturne, a piece that is filled with many elements that can be called characteristic of the composer’s later work”
“Gavrylyuk also seized the first opportunity to turn a poetic phrase, his legato lines defying the inherently percussive nature of the piano, his rubato understated but unmistakable. Best of all, Gavrylyuk offered some daring pedaling in the Russian manner, producing dissonances that more cautious pianists would have avoided. One marveled, too, at the music-box charm Gavrylyuk conjured in the upper-register passages of the first movement’s cadenza.”