The legendary piano concerto by Issay Dobrowen is available on record for the first time. The piano virtuoso, conductor and composer left Russia for Europe in the 1920s and was Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic from 1928 to 1932. Norwegian pianist Jørn Fossheim has made Russian piano music his speciality and brings this music out from the dusty archives, making it available in this fantastic recording.
Huge success in Europe
After the revolution it became more and more difficult for Dobrowen to stay in his home country, and in 1922 he moved to Dresden with his wife and two children. Dobrowen quickly makes a name for himself with the big opera houses and orchestras of Europe, but being a Jew in Germany becomes very difficult in the 1930s. Working with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra made it possible for him to move to Norway, he he actually became a Norwegian citizen, only to be forced further on to Sweden with the German occupation in 1940. After the war he made numerous legendary recordings with the newly started Philharmonia Orchestra in London. He staged and conducted opera at Covent Garden and La Scala, among others, spending the last years of his life sharing the Music Director position of La Scala with Furtwängler, de Sabata and Karajan.
In the great romantic tradition
Due to the fact that his career as a conductor went so extremely well after he came to Europe, Dobrowen’s work as pianist and composer had to take the back seat. His list of works counts only 20 opus – mostly written before he left the Soviet Union – music which today is totally unknown. His is a fascinating world of themes and colours where several sources of inspiration can be heard – both from the Russian and Western musical traditions. And there is certainly no arguing that Dobrowen himself must have been a piano virtuoso with exceptional abilities.
Specialising in Russian piano music
Norwegian pianist Jørn Fossheim has made Russian piano music into something of a special field for himself, with many concert tours all across Russia in the later years. When Fossheim performed the Dobrowen piano concerto in St. Petersburg during the preparations for this recording, it was actually the Russian premiere of the piece. Maestro Dmitriev and his Academic Orchestra of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia play magnificently, and we as listeners are given a fascinating first meeting with one of the forgotten masters from our near past.