Kirill Gerstein to Perform with New York Philharmonic, 10/17-19
Pianist Kirill Gerstein returns to New York for performances of orchestral and solo piano works spanning both the classical and jazz genres. Mr. Gerstein, who has cemented his reputation as an outstanding interpreter of Rachmaninoff, makes his subscription debut with the New York Philharmonic performing the composer'sRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini conducted by Semyon Bychkov on Thursday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, October 18 at 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m. Also on the program is Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11.
Mr. Gerstein's performances of Rachmaninoff's works for piano and orchestra have been met with considerable critical acclaim. After a recent performance of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, The Independent called Mr. Gerstein "one of the hottest guns in the game" and his playing "superb." Furthermore, after a performance of the Third Piano Concerto, The Oregonian stated that Mr. Gerstein was "astonishingly precise in his crashing chords, high filigrees and carefully calibrated bass. In the Andante he performed magnificently one of the pianist's great magic tricks, playing mezzo-forte to sound clearly through the hall while touching the keys with such delicacy as to suggest the most intimate pianissimo."
Mr. Gerstein has found an equal partner in Mr. Bychkov, who came to international attention in 1973 when he won the Rachmaninoff Conducting Competition. Mr. Bychkov has been praised for bringing out Rachmaninoff's "deep and rich sounds" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The two artists have performed together for more than six years with numerous orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, NDR Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and St. Louis Symphony, among others. Mr. Gerstein made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2011 and following the performance The New York Times wrote, "The Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein...played a brilliant, perceptive and stunningly fresh account of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. At 31 Mr. Gerstein is emerging as one of the most respected pianist of his generation."
On Sunday, October 20 at 7:30 pm, Mr. Gerstein, who has studied jazz as well as classical piano, plays both genres side by side when he performs the New York premiere of jazz pianist Brad Mehldau's Variations on a Melancholy Theme paired with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in recital at Le Poisson Rouge. Mr. Gerstein commissioned the Mehldau set with funds from his Gilmore Artist Award and premiered the work in 2012 at his alma mater, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Though it incorporates improvisatory techniques, Mr. Mehldau's work takes root in classical forms. Mr. Mehldau wrote, "The theme to my set of variations has a two-part form, and each part is repeated: A1A2B1B2. It's a form that is used a lot for variations-Bach's Goldberg or Beethoven's Diabelli, for example. I adhered to this form, but varied and developed the material with each second pass through A and B. So unlike those great works, there are no 'repeats' in my score; that is, in praxis, no material is ever literally repeated note for note. Even in the opening theme, the harmony and the figuration around the melody is already developing in A2 and B2. This might be an impulse from my jazz background: Much of jazz uses forms that repeat their material at least once as its springboard for improvisation."
Since receiving the Gilmore Award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has commissioned works by Mr. Mehldau, Oliver Knussen, Chick Corea and Timothy Andres. Daniel R. Gustin, director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival said, "Kirill Gerstein demonstrates what a remarkable artist he is by using some of his Gilmore Award monies to commission piano music from such an incredibly wide range of composers as he has." Mr. Gustin continued, "Not many pianists today could successfully champion such a wide-ranging and eclectic group of composers and their music, and be able to do so with such genuine passion and conviction."
Mr. Gerstein is the recipient of the prestigious 2010 Gilmore Artist Award. He won First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant. Highlights of his 2013-14 season include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati and Houston symphonies; and recitals in Boston, Toronto, Denver, Princeton and at Duke University. Internationally, he plays with London's Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras as well as with the Czech Philharmonic and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and also appears with the Danish Radio, Dresden Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome. Mr. Gerstein's first recording of recital works by Schumann, Liszt and Oliver Knussen was released in October 2010 by Myrios Classics and named one of the 10 best classical recordings of 2010 by The New York Times. His discography also includes two duo recital discs with violist Tabea Zimmermann. Born in 1979 in Voronezh, Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied classical music while teaching himself jazz by listening to his parents' jazz record collection. He came to the U.S. at 14 to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston's Berklee College of Music. He later decided to focus mainly on classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music. He is currently a professor of piano at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, Germany.