The San Francisco Symphony and guest conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada play a program of Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev tonight, joined by piano soloist Denis Kozhukhin for a work that he obsessed over as a young music student. He says he was drawn to the Prokofiev Second Piano Concerto from the first time he heard it, and it remains an old friend to today.

There’s more about the concert at the San Francisco Symphony website.

Kozhukhin, who was born in Nizhny Novgorod, the same Russian town as the writer Maxim Gorky, now lives in Berlin. His parents were both musicians, but he says he first encountered the Prokofiev 2nd Concerto in a music history class. “I asked my teacher to make a… (back then, we didn’t have internet or YouTube) and I asked to make a copy of the cassette, and I took it home, and I remember like for one month, before going to sleep, I would hear it through again and again and again, it was really inside my brain.” He discovered there was a copy of the score in his house, and he would secretly look at it, and dream of playing it. “Once my parents would leave for work, instead of practicing what I had to practice, I would open the score, of course being a bit shocked, seeing three lines to play at the same time. Back then, I didn’t know that existed, or how to do it. But the idea was long there, and of course it was one of the dreams to do it. And now I’ve done it over the years, and again and again and it’s like an old friend already.”