Following Kirill’s performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra led by Giancarlo Guerrero, John Terauds wrote in the Toronto Star:
“To twist a cliché, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and guest pianist Kirill Gerstein taught an early-evening audience on Wednesday that you can teach an old warhorse new tricks.
“The crowd at Roy Thomson Hall rose boisterously to its feet as the Russian-born pianist finished playing Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky’s perennially popular Piano Concerto No. 1 because he managed to augment this big, three-movement showpiece from 1875 with a breath of fresh lyricism to go with the keyboard fireworks.”
Kirill performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra again Thursday, May 16 and Saturday, May 18.
This week, in anticipation of his two concerts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), Kirill met with ISO piano technician Michael Sowka at the Steinway on which he would perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Since apprenticing at a German piano shop, Kirill has regularly collaborated with piano technicians before concerts to fine-tune the instrument’s voicing to his exact preference.
Kirill will perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the ISO tomorrow, May 9 at 11 a.m., and on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m.
On Friday, April 26, Kirill brings his boundary-breaking, “high-octane” recital program featuring works from jazz to classical to the MCASD Sherwood Auditorium presented by La Jolla Music Society. The program includes Brad Mehldau’s Variations on a Melancholy Theme commissioned by Kirill, as well as works by Brahms, Haydn and Mussorgsky.
The recital, featuring works by Haydn, Brahms, Schumann, and the UK premiere of Brad Mehldau’s Variations on a Melancholy Theme, can be heard online at BBC Radio 3 through April 11, 2013.
Pink Martini’s Storm Large joined Kirill on the Oregon Symphony stage for an encore performance of Gershwin’s Summertime.
Of his program at Troy, he said, “The idea of the program, even though it travels through the centuries and can look on paper as a very colorful and diverse program, it has this unifying theme of what composers use to construct what are called variations.”
The selections include a “very forward looking piece in a way, very modern and contemporary-sounding,” by Haydn, along with a pair of Brahms variations pieces, including one that is “probably Brahms’ most virtuoso piece, in terms of both physical and mental virtuosity.”
Also on the program is “Variations on a Melancholy Theme” by Brad Mehldau. It’s one of those jazz-crossover pieces commissioned by Gerstein. He said that Mehldau’s piece was initially intended to be just a few minutes in length. “He (Mehldau) said to me, ‘The piece just keeps going on.’ I’m used to dealing with composers a bit, and I thought, let’s not inhibit the muse. It became a very large selection of variations, going back and forth between a classical series of sounds and a very distinctive, jazzy feel.”