Festivals in London & New York, & The Start of a Tchaikovsky Recording Cycle

“What is this music that we love so deeply if not our beloved friend? I’ve loved Tchaikovsky’s music ever since I can remember. Like all first loves this one never died”
Semyon Bychkov

Semyon Bychkov’s return to Eugene Onegin in December 2015 at London’s Covent Garden after 15 years signaled the beginning of a period where the music of Russia, and particularly Tchaikovsky, has become a major focus of his repertoire.  Projects in London and New York, together with recordings of the symphonies and concertos, as well as plans for a series of Tchaikovsky residencies – including in Vienna and Paris – form the backbone of his programming which looks to the music of his formative years.

October 2016 marked the release of the first in a cycle of Tchaikovsky recordings that Bychkov will realise with the Czech Philharmonic for Decca.  Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic’s Tchaikovsky Project which encompasses recordings and concerts, Bychkov’s first release with the Orchestra featured Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 Pathétique coupled with Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture.  

The first of the Tchaikovsky projects also took place in October 2016vin London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, where Bychkov holds the honorary title of Günter Wand Conducting Chair.  Beloved Friend: Tchaikovsky Project consisted of three concerts built around Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Manfred Symphony, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini, as well as the Piano Concerto No. 2 and, the unfinished Piano Concerto No. 3.  Programmes also featured works by Rachmaninov and Taneyev and, in addition to the three concerts, the BBC SO presented Beloved Friend, a dramatized recital in words, music and dance, written by Oscar-winning playwright Sir Ronald Harwood.

In late January/early February 2017, Semyon Bychkov brought his Tchaikovsky project to New York, where the New York Philharmonic presented Beloved Friend – Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival.  New York’s three week series of symphonic and chamber concerts built on much of the repertoire performed in London with the addition of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and the New York première of the new urtext edition of the 1879 version of Piano Concerto No. 1 performed by its champion, Kirill Gerstein.

Throughout this period and beyond, Semyon Bychkov has continued to record his Tchaikovsky cycle with the Czech Philharmonic. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 Pathétique and the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture was released in October 2016 and was followed by a recording of the Manfred Symphony released in August 2017.


The Tchaikovsky Project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s boxset release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos recorded with Kirill Gerstein, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.