The International Piano Festival

From 24 to 30 December 2013 at the Concert Hall and at the Mariinsky II there will be fifteen concerts featuring nineteen pianists.

The Mariinsky Theatre is presenting the latest International Piano Festival during which there will be concerts with the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev and recital programmes featuring talented musicians of various generations and from different schools, each of them with their own personas and individual techniques. For the first time, the festival’s concerts will be held not just at the Concert Hall but at the Mariinsky II as well.

At the festival’s inception, Valery Gergiev conceived one of its main aims as to reveal new talents, inviting internationally acclaimed musicians who are, to date, little known in Russia as well as providing a platform for young talents and making piano music more popular in general.

The current International Piano Festival will see appearances by pianists of various degrees of experience coming from different traditions: the festival programme is to be framed by concerts featuring the Russian piano masters Denis Matsuev and Nikolai Lugansky, who will be appearing with the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev. Both musicians will be performing works by the brilliant Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff – Denis Matsuev with Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (24 December, Mariinsky II) and Nikolai Lugansky with the Second Piano Concerto (30 December, Concert Hall).

Throughout the festival there will be a variety of programmes by young and already acclaimed pianists including Anastasia Voltchok, Denis Kozhukhin, Rustam Muradov, Sergey Kasprov, Alexandre Pirojenko, Pavel Raikerus, Sergei Redkin, Behzod Abduraimov and Anna Vinnitskaya.

Anastasia Voltchok’s concert (25 December, 18:00, Amphitheatre Auditorium, Mariinsky II) will plumb philosophical depths, the evening being dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Anastasia Voltchok is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire (classes of Yevgeny Malinin and Larisa Dedova), and she also trained under Rudolph Buchbinder in Basel and Santiago Rodriguez in the USA. The pianist tours more frequently in Europe and the USA than in Russia. In the spring of 2014 she plans to release a recording of the Goldberg Variations. Swiss critics have commented that the pianist stands apart for her “incredible power and energy, while her technique is so perfect that it is as if Richter’s spirit is alive and well on the stage.” There will be a solo recital featuring piano music by composers ranging from Joseph Haydn to Sergei Prokofiev by Denis Kozhukhin (25 December, 20:00, Concert Hall), a prize-winner at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, one of the world’s great piano forums. The pianist appears at the world’s great concert venues, among them Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Concertgebouw. A pupil of the Nizhny Novgorod School of Music, Denis Kozhukhin graduated from the Escuela Superior de Música in Madrid (class of Dmitry Bashkirov), subsequently studying at the International Accademia Pianistica Lake Como. Among the musician’s major projects have been performances of all of Prokofiev’s piano sonatas. Denis Kozhukhin dedicates much of his attention to chamber music, performing with such renowned musicians and ensembles as Leonidas Kavakos, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Julian Rachlin and the Jerusalem Quartet.
One of the greatest musicians of recent times, Sergey Kasprov is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire (classes of Alexei Lyubimov and Alexei Parshin) who is a concert pianist, harpsichord-player and organist. He also trained at the Schola Cantorum de Paris under Professor Igor Lazko and took part in early music keyboard workshops run by Miklós Spányi (Sopron, Hungary, 2005). Sergey Kasprov’s performances are underlined by their sense of improvisation. He has a unique ability to bring the atmosphere of the works he is playing to life and convey highly subtle stylistic nuances of piano music from different periods. The musician has a particular and instantly recognisable performing style based on heightened attention to the intonation, filigree depiction of the rhythmic drawing, an almost hypertrophied precision of touch. Kasprov will be presenting a programme of rarely performed works including sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti that are rarely performed by contemporary pianists, while his programme will also feature Ludwig van Beethoven’s Thirtieth Sonata, Frédéric Chopin’s Scherzo No 4 and Nocturnes and Franz Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor (26 December, 20:00, Concert Hall).
The St Petersburg school is to be represented by students of the outstanding teachers Marina Wolf and Alexander Sandler – Rustam Muradov, Alexandre Pirojenko, Pavel Raikerus and Sergei Redkin. The programme for the recital by Rustam Muradov – currently a student at the Moscow Conservatoire – features fantasias and sonatas by Mozart and Haydn and César Franck’s Prélude, fugue et variation (26 December, 18:00, Mariinsky II, Amphitheatre Auditorium). Alexandre Pirojenko will be performing works by the Romantic composers Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt (27 December, 17:00, Mariinsky II, Amphitheatre Auditorium). Pavel Raikerus will perform piano music by Edvard Grieg and Franz Liszt as well as Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations (27 December, 19:00, Concert Hall). Sergei Redkin has been a prize-winner at numerous international competitions and, as a soloist at the St Petersburg House of Music, he has trained at the International Accademia Pianistica Lake Como. For his programme he has included Frédéric Chopin’s Sonata No 3, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No 30 and works by Jean Sibelius (28 December, 17:00, Mariinsky II, Amphitheatre Auditorium).
Twenty-year-old pianist Behzod Abduraimov, a native of Uzbekistan, first made a name for himself with his sensational victory at the London Competition in 2009 when he performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. The musician is currently a student at the International Center for Music at Park University (Kansas City, USA). His debut disc was released by Decca Classics in 2012, in itself an indication of his outstanding talent, and received the Choc de Classica and Diapason découverte prizes. Behzod Abduraimov has been referred to as a “pianist of demonic power”, an  “incredible talent” and even “the next Horowitz”. In his recital the pianist will present works ranging from Beethoven’s classical sonata Appassionata to Ravel’s phantasmagorical Gaspard de la nuit. The programme also features Franz Schubert’s Thirteenth Sonata and the rarely performed Poetic and Religious Harmonies by Liszt (28 December, 20:00, Concert Hall).
In Anna Vinnitskaya’s performances critics have observed her combination of great skill of phrasing, refined technique and well developed emotion. To date awards include 1st prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (2007). After graduating from the Rostov State Rachmaninoff Conservatoire (class of Sergei Osipenko) Anna Vinnitskaya also graduated from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg where she is now a teacher. The pianist regularly appears with renowned orchestras and has produced recordings on France’s Naïve label that have been awarded prizes by Classica magazine and ECHO Klassik (29 December, 19:00, Concert Hall).
Piers Lane, one of the most interesting pianists of the present day, is less well known among St Petersburg audiences. He was born in Australia and lives and works in London, regularly appearing in recital and in chamber concerts at the world’s great music forums and prestigious festivals including the BBC Proms. Piers Lane’s concert programme consists entirely of Chopin’s Nocturnes (29 December, 17:00, Mariinsky II, Amphitheatre Auditorium). The festival will afford a rare opportunity to hear the piano genius Menahem Pressler, who – literally on the eve of the festival – will turn ninety years of age. A living legend, the pianist made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Eugene Ormandy and is a musician who established one of the world’s great piano trios – the Beaux Arts Trio with which he performed for more than fifty years in addition to being a concert pianist who continues to perform in recitals and chamber concerts, amazing audiences with the power of his sound and interpretations (29 December, 15:00, Concert Hall).

In line with tradition the festival will present pupils from one school – this time the students of Valery Pyasetsky who will be performing two concerts – a recital and a concert with the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre on 28 and 29 December. Valery Pyasetsky himself is a concert pianist who has dazzling charisma and is today much celebrated for his gifts as a teacher. His class has produced several generations of stunning musicians. He teaches a large class at the Central Middle Specialised School of Music in addition to teaching at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. He regularly works with the New Names programme. His numerous pupils include recipients of Grands Prix and winners of 1st prizes at international competitions in countries across the globe. One of his greatest successes as a teacher came in 1998 when his pupil Denis Matsuev won the ХI International Tchaikovsky Competition. Pyasetsky will be presenting six students from his class in St Petersburg.
The youngest of Pyasetsky’s students to be taking part in the concert is Ma Sin A from North Korea; aged ten, she is already an accomplished concert pianist who recently won the Silver Nutcracker at the Nutcracker Young Pianists’ Competition run by Kultura TV. Ma Sin A will be performing a piano concerto by Joseph Haydn and pieces by Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. The eldest student will be Alexander Sinchuk, who studied in Pyasetsky’s class at the conservatoire and from which he graduated with distinction in 2011. Since 2012 Alexander Sinchuk has studied at the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, USA) as part of the prestigious Artist Diploma programme for young performers, class of the internationally renowned pianist Professor Daniel Pollack, himself a prize-winner at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958. Alexander Sinchuk will be performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Piano Concerto as well as works by Scriabin.
Daniil Kharitonov, another pupil of Pyasetsky at the Central School of Music, has been a prize-winner at several international competitions, one of which saw him win the Golden Nutcracker and the special prize from Kultura TV (2010). He has already appeared at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, while in spring this year he gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. His programme in St Petersburg includes Rachmaninoff’s First Concerto which the musician recorded with the Novaya Rossiya orchestra when he was fourteen years old.
Dmitry Maiboroda, a student of the Moscow Conservatoire, will perform Franz Liszt’s First Piano Concerto. The pianist’s rendition of this work has previously won him acclaim at the VII International Young Pianists’ Competition Dedicated to Franz Liszt in Moscow (2010, Grand Prix).

Those attending the young pianists’ concerts may take part in a vote to determine the winner of the Audience Award. The winner will be given the opportunity to perform at the Concert Hall in recital on 11 January 2014.

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