“This is the kind of serious, intelligent and virtuosic music-making that keeps classical music alive.”
Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s heritage combines the traditions of Russian, American and Central European music-making with an insatiable curiosity. These qualities and the relationships that he has developed with orchestras, conductors, instrumentalists, singers and composers, have led him to explore repertoire both new and old. From Bach to Adès, Gerstein’s playing is distinguished by its clarity of expression, discerning intelligence and virtuosity, and an energetic, imaginative musical presence that places him at the top of his profession.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Gerstein is an American citizen based in Berlin. His career is similarly international, with solo and concerto engagements taking him across Europe and the United States, to China and Australia. An important focus of the last season was the world première of Thomas Adès’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. The outcome of a long and productive relationship with both orchestra and composer, the concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and composed especially for Gerstein. Following the world première in Boston and subsequent New York and European premières, over the 2019-20 season, Gerstein and Adès will present the new piece in London, Helsinki, Munich, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Gerstein will also be heard playing the new work with the Danish National Symphony and Nicholas Collon, and The Cleveland Orchestra and Alan Gilbert.
The recent critical urtext edition of the 1879 version of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, to which Gerstein was given special pre-publication access in 2014, will feature in performances in Prague, Vienna’s Musikverein and the Philharmonie in Paris with the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov. Decca Classics’s The Tchaikovsky Project, for which Gerstein live recorded the three piano concertos with the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov, was released in August 2019. Since 2007, when Gerstein and Bychkov first collaborated, Gerstein has made his debuts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics as well as with the Royal Concertgebouw under Bychkov’s baton. He made his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra in Paris under Sir Simon Rattle in December 2017, and has since appeared with them in London under Sir Mark Elder. Gerstein will return to the Orchestra in June 2020 to perform Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F under Rattle.
Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, which Gerstein recorded with David Robertson and the St Louis Symphony Orchestra for his The Gershwin Moment album released in 2018, is just one of many concertos which he can be heard playing this season with orchestras including The Hague Residentie Orkest, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Houston and Dallas Symphony Orchestras. In addition to further performances of the Adès and Tchaikovsky concertos, Gerstein will explore works by Busoni, Strauss, Liszt, Brahms, Ravel, Mozart and Hummel, and with the Minnesota Orchestra, begin the cycle of performing all Rachmaninov’s works for piano and orchestra. To mark Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, he opens the Chicago Symphony’s Piano series surveying the complete piano sonatas, and will give tour de force performances of the five Piano Concertos in Grand Rapids and San Antonio.
Gerstein’s inquisitive side is equally in play programming chamber concerts and solo recitals, where his vast knowledge of the repertoire was the basis for his “Uprising and social tumult” programme presented last season at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, London’s Wigmore Hall and The Gilmore’s Piano Master Series as well as in Chicago, São Paulo, Singapore, Melbourne, Copenhagen and Sydney. Gerstein was also heard in recital at Vienna’s Musikverein and Stockholm’s Konserthuset. For 2019-20 season, Gerstein presents “Journey through Europe” juxtaposing works by Adès, Bartók and Kurtág with Haydn, Schubert, Brahms and Liszt in concerts at the Berliner Philharmonie, New York’s Zankel Hall and the Wigmore Hall. In Paris and Hungary, he will be heard with the Hagen Quartet with whom he regularly collaborates.
Kirill Gerstein’s carefully curated recording projects for myrios classics have recently included the release of Busoni’s monumental Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo; The Gershwin Moment including special appearances from Storm Large and Gerstein’s former mentor Gary Burton; Liszt’s Transcendental Études which was picked by The New Yorker as one of 2016’s notable recordings; and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in the composer’s own final version from 1879. Previous recordings for myrios classics also include Imaginary Pictures coupling Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with Schumann’s Carnaval; two discs of sonatas for viola and piano by Brahms, Schubert, Franck, Clarke and Vieuxtemps recorded with Tabea Zimmerman; and a recital disc of works by Schumann, Liszt and Knussen. He also featured on LAWO Classics’ Scriabin cycle performing Prometheus: The Poem of Fire and the Piano Concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko.
Brought up studying both classical and jazz piano, Kirill Gerstein was 14 when he moved to the US as the youngest student to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. As his focus turned towards the classical repertoire, Gerstein furthered his studies with Solomon Mikowsky in New York, Dmitri Bashkirov in Madrid and Ferenc Rados in Budapest. He won the first of a series of prestigious accolades in 2001: First Prize at the 10th Arthur Rubinstein Competition. In 2002, he won a Gilmore Young Artist Award, and in 2010 both an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Gilmore Artist Award, which enabled him to commission new works from Timothy Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen and Brad Mehldau. Believing that teaching is an integral part of being a musician, Gerstein led piano classes at the Stuttgart Musik Hochschule between 2007 and 2017. In October 2018, he took up the post of Professor of Piano at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule in Berlin in addition to the Kronberg Academy’s new Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Artists.