20 NOV 2020
Alexandra Dovgan was born in 2007 into a family of musicians and began her piano studies when she was four and a half. At the age of five, her talent emerged when she passed the extremely competitive selections to join the Academic Central Music School of Moscow State Con¬servatory, where she is currently studying under renowned teacher Mira Marchenko.
Alexandra is a prize winner at five international competitions, among them Moscow International Vladimir Krainev Piano Competition, Astana Piano Passion International Competition, International Television Contest “The Nutcracker”. In May 2018, when she was not yet 11, Alexandra gained world fame winning the Grand Prix at the Second International Grand Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Moscow created by Denis Matsuev. The images of this concert have travelled the world on Medici.TV and on YouTube, moving musicians and piano lovers all around the globe.
The young pianist has already performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls in Europe and under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Spivakov and Vladimir Fedoseyev.
In December 2018 her performance with Denis Matsuev and Valery Gergiev opened the Mariinsky International Piano Festival while in January 2019 she made her first appearance at the Philharmonie in Berlin.
Her debut in the Great Hall of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam of last May, within the Meesterpianisten Serie of Marco Riaskoff, received a standing ovation and was highly acclaimed by the press.
In July she will debut at the Salzburg Festival with a recital in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum. Later in November she will debut in Paris with a recital at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and in April she will appear for the first time in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Further concerts will take place in Rome, Barcelona, Gstaad, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Munich, St Petersburg and Moscow.
Spontaneous depth and consciousness along with a sound of incredible beauty and precision are the distinguishing characteristics of Alexandra’s pianism. You will not find any element of show off or technical demonstration at her piano playing but an impressive concentration combined with purity of expression and a creative imagination. She possesses a charismatic presence on stage and a distinct personality.
Away from the piano, Alexandra can be found skiing, playing the organ, learning ballet, math’s and having fun with her 6-year-old little brother.
Astelle Sound System
The Astelle workshops are part of the Reception and Psychosocial Integration sector, which is part of the community psychiatry sector of the Centre Neuchâtelois de Psychiatrie (CNP). They are active on the Préfargier site and the Perreux site. They are divided into different distinct sectors of activity: packaging, carpentry, IT, gardens, cafeteria, among others.
The role of the workshops is to set up socio-professional projects adapted to the level of employees’ skills. The activities must be rewarding and enable the development of autonomy, trust, communication and social networking in a secure environment, by developing a listening and coaching adapted to each beneficiary.
The Astelle workshops participate fully in the rehabilitation and integration process of the beneficiaries. They also offer personal development activities, including the Astelle Sound System choir. The exercise of an activity is an important factor in integration, making it possible to develop a network of relationships while at the same time being a means of social recognition.
This choir offers beneficiaries the opportunity to be part of a vocal expression group. This allows them to dare to express themselves, to gain self-confidence, to create strong bonds in an atmosphere that is conducive to sharing and self-expression, while gaining self-confidence. Singing also allows them to put aside their worries and exercise their memory.
This choir is active 2 x 90 mn per week and favours a moment of conviviality, sharing, working on self-confidence and relaxation. It allows the beneficiaries to perform inside and outside the institutional “walls”.
Joëlle Dubail, Director of Astelle Sound System
David Jornod, Workshop Manager
20 FEB 2021
Mario Brunello is a captivating musician who plays with an expressive freedom rarely found today. The Italian cellist — equally at home as soloist, chamber musician, and project innovator — has been praised by Gramophone for his “great spirit” and described as “intense and passionate” by The Strad.
Brunello made his breakthrough in 1986 as the first and only Italian to win the coveted International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Since then, Brunello’s heartfelt playing has earned him appearances with such leading conductors as Antonio Pappano, Valery Gergiev, Riccardo Chailly, Ton Koopman, Riccardo Muti, Myung-Whun Chung and Seiji Ozawa, and concerto performances with many of the world’s foremost ensembles, including the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Tokyo, the Kioi Sinfonietta, the Filarmonica della Scala and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. As a chamber musician, Brunello has forged fruitful partnerships with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Martha Argerich, Andrea Lucchesini, Giuliano Carmignola, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Isabelle Faust, Maurizio Pollini and the Borodin Quartet. As the creator and artistic director of Arte Sella and I Suoni delle Dolomiti festivals, Brunello has also brought music of the highest calibre to the Dolomite peaks.
Among Brunello’s engagements for the season 2019-20 are concerts in Warsaw with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, in Moscow with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and in Yerevan as a guest of the Contemporary Classics Festival. His ongoing collaboration with Kremerata Baltica continues with appearances at the Kronberg Festival — together with Gidon Kremer — and with a tour of South America in the double role of soloist and conductor. Brunello also continues to serve as artist-in-residence of the Philharmonie Zuidnederland.
Brunello plays a precious Maggini cello crafted in the early 1600s. He has, however, grown increasingly fond in recent years of the “cello piccolo”. The cello piccolo — as its name implies, a smaller version of the cello — shares the tuning of a violin, as well as something of the latter’s nimble handling, while retaining much of the resonance and depth of the former. Brunello has exploited the full potential of this instrument in revelatory performances of the baroque violin repertoire, focusing on the masterpieces of Bach, Vivaldi and Tartini.
This season coincides with the 250th anniversary of Giuseppe Tartini, which Brunello will celebrate with an extended homage to the composer, whose works he will perform and record alone as well as in collaboration with the Accademia dell’Annunciata.
His recent recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, performed on a cello piccolo, represents both the fulfillment of Brunello’s artistic dream and an extraordinary opportunity for the public to discover these familiar works in a deeply expressive and refreshingly new sound experience. This recording inaugurates the new “Bach Brunello” series in collaboration with the Arcana label. The complete three-CD series will feature violin masterpieces on the cello piccolo.
Brunello’s richly diverse discography includes recordings of the works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Vivaldi, Haydn, Chopin, Janaček, and Sollima. His five-CD set on the EGEA label features his performances of Tavener’s “The Protecting Veil” with the Kremerata Baltica and his award-winning recording of Bach’s Cello Suites. Also worthy of note are his Deustche Grammophon release of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto under the baton of Claudio Abbado; his Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, conducted by Antonio Pappano (EMI); and his stunning live performance video of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, conducted by Valery Gergiev in the Salle Pleyel in Paris.
Fanfare 3D, la fanfare autrement
Géraldine Benza &
Since February 2020, the Fanfare 3D has been pursuing its mission within the Perce-Neige Foundation. Its ingredients? A handful of brass instruments, an armful of percussion, a hint of woodwinds, an indispensible audience, good will, a pinch of good humour and a touch of fantasy that lets the creative impulse go. With about fifteen members, including residents as well as outside volunteers, its repertoire includes dance music, a few song tunes, and simple, lively, contemporary arrangements that bring a festive atmosphere to the occasion. The Fanfare 3D gives 4 to 5 performances a year, in institutions, old age homes or during events.
In February 1996, under the impulse of Mrs Jocelyne Genoud, educator at the Rehabilitation Unit of the Cantonal Psychiatric Hospital of Perreux and musician, the “Fanfare des UR de Perreux” was born.
In 2004 the band was integrated into the workshops, joined in 2006 by Mr. Jean-Bernard Vurlod, music therapist in adult psychiatry and musician. In 2009 the band was integrated into the Astelle Workshops of the newly created Centre Neuchâtelois de Psychiatrie and became “Fanfare 3D la fanfare autrement”. “In addition to the allusion to a French singer, the 3Ds represent the musical, social and therapeutic dimensions that sum up the mission of the band.
In 2012 Ms. Géraldine Benza, a geriatric animator and musician, joined the band, as Ms. Genoud left the band the same year.
In February 2020 the Fanfare 3D left the CNP and was taken over by the Perce-Neige Foundation. It continues its mission, still directed by Mrs Benza and Mr Vurlod.
Les Perce-Neige Foundation charter
Our mission is to accompany the person
in a situation of disability.
We aim for her to be able to take
its full place in society.
We accomplish our mission
in a professional and interdisciplinary manner
by putting the human being at the center of our concerns.
We work with consistency,
in a caring, respectful and balanced attitude.
In an entrepreneurial spirit, we develop
a strategic, open and innovative vision.
We are recognized by our partners
through the relevance of our actions,
defending our values
and our militant commitment.
The purpose of our commitments is to
the fulfilment and valorization of each individual.
A human adventure, a state of mind
9 MAR 2021
direction and luth
Théotime Langlois de Swarte,
Sophie de Bardonnèche,
viola da gamba
“We are the ocean each one a drop” Jupiter Ensemble
“With Jupiter, I wanted to bring together a group of exceptional musicians from the new generation, encountered while working with a large number of ensembles.
All of the artists invited to take part in the project are brilliant masters of their instruments, and some of them are already renowned soloists. The great freedom that they have all acquired during their projects, the choices in their explorations and a shared knowledge of music will mean we can perform the various repertoires in question with passion, power and emotion.
Ancient music has experienced a great period of rediscovery, thanks to such pioneers as William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe or Jordi Savall, with whom I have been fortunate enough to work. It is now our responsibility, as a generation who grew up with this music, to continue bringing it alive, while making it more modern, showing just how accessible it can be, and how much it touches our hearts.
Listening, improvisation and energy, as well as a shared overall vision, will all be key factors. All our past experiences, as well as our group work with Jupiter, will allow us to gain a greater freedom, which will make this music utterly alive and, I hope, touching.”
Thomas Dunford artistic director
“Thomas Dunford’s supple technique, combined with his passion for jazz, allows him to decorate and elaborate the written texts with improvisatory abandon, shedding new light on old favourites. He really plumbs the depths, too, of Dowland’s melancholy ‘blues’ style, proving himself to be an Eric Clapton of the lute.” (Kate Bolton, BBC Magazine)
Born in Paris in 1988, Thomas Dunford discovered the lute at the age of 9 thanks to his teacher Claire Antonini. He continued his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris where he obtained a first prize unanimously in the class of Charles-Edouard Fantin, then at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Hopkinson Smith. He participated in many masterclasses with violinists such as Rolf Lislevand, Julian Bream, Eugène Ferré, Paul O’Dette, Pascale Boquet, Benjamin Perrot and Eduardo Eguez.
From 2003 to 2005, Thomas made his debut as a lutenist in Shakespeare’s Night of the Kings on the stage of the Comédie Française. Since then, he has given concerts all over the world: Carnegie Hall and Frick Collection in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Washington Kennedy Center, Vancouver Recital Society, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Philharmonies de Paris et Berlin, TAP Poitiers, WDR Cologne, Bozar Brussels… He participates in major festivals such as Saintes, Radio-France Montpellier Occitanie, Ambronay, Leipzig Bachfest, Utrecht, Folles Journées de Nantes and others. He also plays in England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Denmark, United States, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Israel, China, Japan and India.
Thomas Dunford is regularly invited to perform or conduct ensembles and orchestras: A 2 Violes Esgales, Les Arts Florissants, Academy of Ancient Musik, Akadêmia, Amarillis, Les Ambassadeurs, Arcangelo, La Cappella Mediterranea, Capriccio Stravagante, Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, La Chapelle Rhénane, Cincinnati Orchestra, Clematis, Collegium Vocale Gent, Le Concert Spirituel, Le Concert d’Astrée, The English Concert, l’Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, La Fenice, Les Folies Françoises, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Marsyas, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Les Musiciens du Paradis, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Les Ombres, Pierre Robert, Pygmalion, La Sainte Folie Fantastique, Scherzi Musicali, La Serenissima, Les Siècles, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, La Symphonie du Marais… He has also directed productions at Opéra Lafayette in Washington since 2017.
In 2018, at the age of thirty, Thomas Dunford created his own ensemble, Jupiter, to which he invited all the musicians who had marked his career and with whom he wanted to lead a musical adventure as much as a friendly one, such as Lea Desandre, Jean Rondeau, Sophie Gent, Théotime Langlois de Swarte, Bruno Philippe, Peter Whelan… Their first disc dedicated to Vivaldi, multi-awarded, was released by Alpha in 2019. Their next projects include a program by Mardrigaux de Monteverdi and “Amazones”, a program of French-Italian recital with Lea Desandre. Jupiter is already scheduled in the largest theatres in Europe and the United States: Philharmonie de Paris, Philharmonie de Berlin, Auditorium Radio-France, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival…
Thomas Dunford previously received numerous awards for his solo records (at Alpha): Lacrimae in 2012, Amore’s Labirinto in 2014 and Bach’s Suites solo in 2018.
Thomas Dunford is drawn to a wide variety of musical genres, including jazz, and collaborates with chamber music projects with conductors and soloists Paul Agnew, Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, Nicola Benedetti, Keyvan Chemirani, William Christie, Jonathan Cohen, Christophe Coin, Iestyn Davies, Lea Desandre, Isabelle Faust, Bobby Mcferrin, Philippe Herreweghe, Monica Huggett, Alexis Kosenko, Francois Lazarévitch, Anne-Sophie von Otter, Trevor Pinnock, Patricia Petibon, Sandrine Piau, Anna Prohaska, Hugo Reyne, Anna Reinhold, Jean Rondeau, Skip Sempé, Jean Tubéry… He notably plays in several duets: with harpsichordist Jean Rondeau, with mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre or with counter-tenor Iestyn Davies.
“Lea Desandre brought life and beauty to everything she touched.”
New York Times
“Révélation Artiste Lyrique des Victoires de la Musique Classique 2017”, Prize HSBC at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and Prize “Jeune soliste des médias francophones 2018”, Lea Desandre is noticed from its 20 years, by William Christie and integrates its Jardin des Voix 2015. She continues her development with Sara Mingardo, Valérie Guillorit and Véronique Gens.
Trained for twelve years in classical dance, the stage is a real place of expression for Lea Desandre. Since 2015, each season has marked new entries to its repertoire, with its first transvestite and handmade roles such as Sesto Giulio Cesare and Ruggiero Alcinabut also the title roles of Alcione/Marais at the Opéra Comique (Paris), at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in Erismena/Cavalli, as well as Abel in The Dead of Abel/Caldara. She is a noted performer of the Messaggiera Orfeo/Monteverdi, Dido in Dido & Aeneas/ Purcell, Annio La Clemenza di Tito/ Mozart, Amour Orphée/Gluck-Berlioz, Valetto et Amore The Coronation of Poppée/Monteverdi, Venus Orphée aux Enfers/Offenbach. Her musical versatility also led her to reveal herself in a “single stage” (pastiche de Rameau) at the Opéra Comique, as well as in the great Farinelli Gala of the Salzburger Festspiele, alongside Cecilia Bartoli.
Her concerts and recitals lead her to sing all over the world: Wigmore Hall, Mozarteum Salzburg, Musikverein Wien, Alice Tully Hall (NY), Walts Disney Concert Hall (LA), Harris Theater Chicago, Festival d’Aix en Provence, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Philharmonie de Paris, Opéra de Bordeaux, Théâtre du Chatelet, Opéra de Rouen, Opéra de Dijon, Opéra de Lille, Sydney Opera House, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow), Theater an der Wien, Shanghai Symphony Hall, KKL Luzern, Teatros del Canal (Madrid) as well as the Opéra-Comique and the Salzburger Festspiele for several consecutive years.
Very attached to chamber music, she regularly performs in concert with Thomas Dunford and the Jupiter Ensemble.
Lea Desandre is invited to sing with prestigious conductors and musicians such as William Christie, Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Marc Minkowski, Raphaël Pichon, Emmanuelle Haïm, Jordi Savall, Thomas Dunford, Jean Rondeau, Christophe Rousset, Laurence Equilbey, Gianluca Capuano, Fabio Biondi, David Stern or Leonardo Garcia Alarcon; as well as renowned director: Barrie Kosky, Jan Lauwers, Jean-Yves Ruf, Aurélien Bory, Jean Bellorini, Clément Debailleul. To be noted in his discography, “Vivaldi” with Jupiter Ensemble (Alpha) 2019, “Handel Italian Cantatas” with Sabine Devieilhe and Emmanuelle Haïm/Le Concert d’Astrée (Erato) 2018, “Berenice che fai” (Apartéé) with Opera Fuoco or “Cities” with Thibault Cauvin (Sony) 2018.
The 2019-20 season marks an important turning point for Lea Desandre. She made her debut in many iconic roles in the repertoire: Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia/Rossini at the Opéra de Rouen, Urbain Les Huguenots/Meyerbeer at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Cherubino and Despina in the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy at the Opéra de Bordeaux. There will also be scenic concerts: #tellmethetruthaboutlove (baroque pastiche) directed by Robert Carsen and directed by William Christie with Jakub Josef Orlinski in Versailles, Spoleto and NY; “Magic Mozart” directed by Clément Debailleul, directed by Laurence Equilbey at the Seine Musicale; “Venus & Adonis/Blow” at NY and Chicago. And in concerts: “Odyssée Baroque” tour with Les Arts Florissants, «Vivaldi» and «Chiaroscuro – Monteverdi» tour with Jupiter Ensemble.
20 MAY 2021
Signum saxophone quartet
“Four saxophonists who rock the house”
“Hamburg. Are they a reincarnation of the Beatles? Four musicians, four young guys with a ‘naughty boy’ image and all the self-confidence of those famous four ‘mop tops’, step out on stage, begin to play and set the place alight. There are young girls in the audience – a big screen as if for a pop group (…)
A mix of masculinity and sensitivity characterizes the music of the four. Playing mostly without sheet music they are freely visible, standing in a curved formation. Who is looking at whom and who steps forward as the leading voice is completely instinctive and spontaneous, in line with the musical logic. Their stupendous perfection becomes almost a given (….)”
Hamburger Abendblatt (Verena Fischer-Zernin)
The four musicians Blaž Kemperle, Hayrapet Arakelyan, Alan Lužar and Guerino Bellarosa met in Cologne where they founded the SIGNUM saxophone quartet in 2006. The saxophonists have studied in Cologne, Vienna and Amsterdam; they have been influenced and inspired by the Quatuor Ébène, Artemis Quartet and conductor Gabor Takács- Nágy.
Award winners at international competitions including Lugano and Berlin, SIGNUM nowadays play in concert halls and at festivals all over Europe. In 2013 they made their debut in the Carnegie Hall NY. A very special and remarkable achievement was the award “Rising Stars 2014/2015“ given by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO), which took SIGNUM to such prestigious concert halls as the Barbican Centre London, Konzerthaus Vienna, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Palais des Beaux-Arts Brussels, Gulbenkian Lisbon, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Philharmonie Cologne, amongst others.
Recently SIGNUM was awarded “Best Ensemble” by prestigious German Festival Festspiele Mecklenburg Vorpommern.
SIGNUM are constantly searching for new ideas, ground breaking challenges and intriguing artistic encounters. Their sheer joy and experimental versatility are reflected in their extraordinary programs; the four young musicians are also to be heard in classical quartet formations and they continue to create exciting, never before seen joint arrangements with inspiring soundscapes.
In the upcoming seasons, SIGNUM will perform with various exciting chamber music partners, among them Alexej Gerassimez (percussion), Harriet Krijgh and Mario Brunello (cello), Simone Zanchini (accordion), Lukas Geniušas (piano) und Nika Gorič (sopran). They have scheduled various quartet recitals and masterclasses at international prestigious festival and concert halls. Furthermore, in the upcoming season, SIGNUM will continue performing with orchestra; on the program: Philip Glass concerto for orchestra and saxophone quartet and Bob Mintzer’s The Rhythm of the Americas. SIGNUM also cares deeply about the audience of tomorrow, and so they have devised their own educational family concert SIGNUM4kids.
The first CD of the quartet “DEBUT” was launched in 2011 including works by Grieg, Ravel, Bartók and Shostakovich; a second CD “BALKANICATION” was released in December 2014. A new CD release is scheduled for 2020.
Percussionist Alexej Gerassimez, born 1987 in Essen, Germany, is as multi-faceted as the instruments he works with. His repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary and jazz to minimal music whilst also performing his own works.
As a soloist, Alexej Gerassimez is a guest with internationally renowned orchestras (including NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Münchner Philharmoniker, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, SWR Sym¬phonieorchester, Rundfunksinfonieorchester Berlin) under the baton of conductors such as Tan Dun, Kristjan Järvi, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Jonathan Stockhammer, John Axelrod and Michel Tabachnik.
The Düsseldorf Tonhalle has commissioned a new percussion concerto for Alexej Gerassimez from the New Zealand composer John Psathas. The world premiere will take place in June 2020 as part of the worldwide “Pastoral Project”, which was launched jointly with the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat on occasion of the celebrations for Beethoven’s 250th birthday (BTHVN 2020).
Alexej Gerassimez will follow in the 2019-2020 season as a soloist invitation to orchestras in Germany, Greece, France and Finland. He is also a soloist and an enthusiastic chamber musician. His partners include pianists Arthur and Lucas Jussen and jazz pianist Omer Klein. With the SIGNUM saxophone quartet, Alexej Gerassimez will embark on a “journey through the universe” in the newly conceived programme “Starry Night” from January 2020.
Highlights of the 2018-2019 season included Alexei Gerassimez’s Japanese debut, the start of a three-year residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund as “Junger Wilder” and participation in the three-year sponsorship program of the “start academy von Bayer Kultur”. Alexej Gerassimez celebrated great successes in spring 2019 with his new concept program “Genesis of Percussion” at the Prinzregententheater in Munich, Konzerthaus Dortmund and the Heidelberger Frühling.
His own compositions are characterized by the exploration of rhythmic and acoustic possibilities as well as by the creation of individual sounds and the joy of crossing borders. Accordingly, Alexej Gerassimez integrates not only the usual percussion and melody instruments but also objects from different contexts such as bottles, brake discs, barrels or ship propellers. His first CD published by GENUIN, which also includes his own works, was received enthusiastically by the press.
Concerts have led the winner of the ARD Music Competition to China, South Korea, the USA, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and to festivals such as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Bonn Beethovenfest and the Niedersächsische Musiktage. He is a regular guest at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and in the summer of 2017 he performed over 20 concerts as artist in residence. In January 2017 Alexej Gerassimez participated in Sasha Waltz’s choreographic and musical exploration of space as part of the opening ceremony of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Since then he has performed amongst other things as a soloist with the NDR Radio Philharmonic under direction of Tan Dun in the Great Hall of the Elbphilharmonie and will return there in June 2020 together with the SIGNUM saxophone quartet. Since November 2017 Alexej Gerassimez is professor for percussion at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich.
3 JUN 2021
The unique, unrepeatable nature of music made in the present moment is central to understanding the expressive beauty and compelling honesty of Grigory Sokolov’s art. The Russian pianist’s poetic interpretations, which come to life with mystical intensity in performance, arise from profound knowledge of the works in his vast repertoire. His recital program span everything from transcriptions of medieval sacred polyphony and keyboard works by Byrd, Couperin, Rameau, Froberger to the music of Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms and landmark twentieth-century compositions by Prokofiev, Ravel, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg and Stravinsky. He is widely recognized among pianophiles as one of today’s greatest pianists, an artist universally admired for his visionary insight, spellbinding spontaneity and uncompromising devotion to music.
Grigory Sokolov was born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) on 18 April 1950. He started to play piano at the age of five and, two years later, began studies with Liya Zelikhman at the Central Special School of the Leningrad Conservatory. He went on to receive lessons from Moisey Khalfin at the Leningrad Conservatory, and gave his debut recital in Leningrad in 1962. Sokolov’s prodigious talent was recognized in 1966 when at 16, he became the youngest musician ever to receive the Gold Medal at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Emil Gilels, chairman of the Tchaikovsky Competition jury, subsequently championed Sokolov’s work.
While Grigory Sokolov undertook major concert tours to the United States and Japan in the 1970s, his artistry evolved and matured away from the international spotlight. His live recordings from Soviet times acquired near-mythical status in the West, evidence of an artist at once entirely individual, like no other, yet nourished by the rich soil of the Russian tradition of piano playing. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sokolov began to appear at Europe’s leading concert halls and festivals. He performed extensively as concerto soloist with orchestras of the highest calibre, working with among others the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Philharmonia London, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Munich Philharmonic, before deciding to focus exclusively on giving solo recitals. Sokolov performs around 70 concerts each season, immersing himself fully in a single programme and touring extensively throughout Europe.
Unlike many pianists, Sokolov takes the closest interest in the mechanism and set-up of the instruments he plays. He spends hours exploring their physical characteristics, consulting and collaborating with piano technicians to achieve his ideal requirements. “You need hours to understand the piano, because each one has its own personality and we play together,” he explains. The partnership between artist and instrument is critically important to the flow of Sokolov’s musical ideas. Sparing in his use of the sustaining pedal, he conjures everything from the subtlest tonal and textural gradations to the boldest contrasts of sound through the sheer brilliance of his finger-work. Critics regularly draw attention to his uncanny ability to articulate individual voices within a complex polyphonic texture and project seamless melodic lines.
Grigory Sokolov’s charismatic artistry holds the power to cultivate the concentration necessary for audiences to contemplate even the most familiar compositions from fresh perspectives. In recital he draws listeners into a close relationship with the music, transcending matters of surface display and showmanship to reveal deeper spiritual meaning. Sokolov’s art rests on the rock-solid foundations of his unique personality and individual vision.
In 2014 Sokolov signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and a first album was released in January 2015, a sensational recital recorded live at the 2008 Salzburg Festival. The double-disc set’s contents reflect the breadth and depth of his repertoire, comprising two sonatas by Mozart, Chopin’s 24 Préludes Op.28 and encore pieces by J.S. Bach, Chopin, Rameau and Scriabin. Sokolov’s Salzburg Recital album was followed in January 2016 by the release of a second two-disc set, Sokolov Schubert/ Beethoven. The latter includes Schubert’s Four Impromptus D 899 and Three Piano Pieces D 946, recorded live at the Warsaw Philharmonie in 2013, and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 29 “Hammerklavier”, recorded in performance at the 2013 Salzburg Festival. Sokolov’s third DG album, released in March 2017, presents his personal choice of two live concerto performances: Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major K488 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3, the former recorded at the Salzburg Mozart Week in 2005, the latter at the BBC Proms in 1995. These historic archive recordings will be issued together with the DVD of Nadia Zhdanova’s documentary film A Conversation That Never Was, a revealing portrait of Sokolov based on interviews with the pianist’s friends and colleagues and illustrated with previously unseen footage from private archives.
Alexandra Dovgan © Oscar Tursunov
Jupiter Ensemble website, screenshot from the video of the Vivaldi CD recording
Lea Desandre © C. Ledroit Perrin
Signum © Andrej Grilc
Alexej Gerassimez © Nikolaj Lund
Grigory Sokolov © Vico Chamla