Kirill Gerstein Plays Solo Beethoven and Liszt in San José, More Beethoven at 92nd St Y, and Tchaikovsky with NY Philharmonic

“Gerstein shows that virtuosity and soulfulness can go hand in hand.”– Chicago Sun-Times

Kirill Gerstein – winner of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award – has played milestone event after milestone event this season; his ever-upward trajectory continues this spring and summer, from intense solo recitals to high-profile concerto engagements. Reviewing a concert last spring, the New York Times described Gerstein’s interpretation of the B-minor Sonata as “spellbinding,” as it balanced “a big, torrential sound in the work’s thunderous sections with crystalline – but still assertive – phrasing in the more introspective passages.” On May 7, Gerstein reprises Beethoven’s Opp. 111 and 119 at New York’s 92nd Street Y, on a program shared with the august Tokyo String Quartet. Following recital and concerto dates, and a tour with the Hagen Quartet across Europe to the Middle East, the pianist returns to Manhattan to play Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Bramwell Tovey at Lincoln Center on June 28-30.

Gerstein’s latest solo album, released in November 2010 by Myrios Classics, features Liszt’s B-minor Sonata along with Schumann’s Humoreske and the debut recording of contemporary British composer Oliver Knussen’s Ophelia’s Last Dance, which Gerstein premiered at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in May 2010. The New York Times lauded the disc, praising his “exquisite technique, refined musicianship, and engrossing imagination.” A National Public Radio feature singled out the pianist’s take on the Schumann: “Gerstein explains that the Humoresque portrays an ‘intimate tracing of Schumann’s emotional states.’ Throughout the five-movement work, Gerstein deftly interprets those emotions, ranging from light tenderness to virtuosic strength.” The Los Angeles Times described his Liszt rendition as “thoughtfully lyrical” and his Knussen as “haunting.”

The present season has seen Gerstein perform high-profile concerto engagements across Europe and the Americas, from Shostakovich’s Second with Esa-Pekka Salonen in Wales to Brahms’s Second with Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela. A celebrated interpreter of Rachmaninoff, Gerstein wowed critics and audiences throughout North America with his performances of the composer’s works. Of his account of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto earlier this month, the Ontario Record reported: “One of the great young pianists in the circuit, Kirill Gerstein was thoroughly up to the monumental task, not afraid to probe the depths of Russian expression – evoking the deepest of rumbles and crisp, clean upper-register chord clusters in rapid-fire succession – while remaining technically circumspect… . A raucous audience bound to its feet, sad that the pianistic wonder had ended all too soon.”

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