At the age of 16, Andre Watts was asked by Leonard Berstein, at the last minute, to perform the Liszt E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in place of the ailing Glenn Gould. The performance was a success and launched Watts' career in true storybook fashion. On his first Telarc recording, Watts is joined by Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in two landmark piano works: Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No.2 and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1.
Tchaikovsky's monumental first piano concerto was written in 1874 and originally dedicated to Nikolai Rubinstein. Rubenstein immediately and adamantly disliked the work calling it "bad, trivial and vulgar." Tchaikovsky changed his dedication to pianist Hans von Bulow. Bulow, delighted with the concerto, praised its "original, noble and powerful ideas and its mature and distinguished style." Withstanding the test of time, this work without question was best described by Bulow.
Saint-Saens wrote in every 19th century musical genre, his most successful were those based on traditional Viennese models which included his concertos. His second concerto was completed in seventeen days. In this work he achieved the balance, clarity, restrain and dignity that he admired in the works of Gluck, Rameau and Mozart.
Both the Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens concertos are regarded as some of the most beloved works of the piano repertoire. Their original harmonies, carefully woven phrases and dramatic intensity will maintain their place among the pianistic masterpieces.