Pianists to play Schubert program with four hands
MIDDLEBURY — Intensive chamber music collaborations have always been an essential part of renowned Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov’s work. On Friday, March 15 he joins German pianist Andreas Staier to perform an all-Schubert program of four-hand works at the Mahaney Arts Center in Middlebury.
Though the Middlebury Performing Arts Series boasts a strong history of solo piano concerts, a four-hand program is a rare treat.
“With this concert, we continue the season’s pairing of regular Series friends with artists new to Middlebury,” explains Performing Arts Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll. “Melnikov has performed for us several times, and we’re thrilled to have him return. It’s a pleasure to welcome Staier — one of the world’s leading harpsichord and fortepiano players — to Middlebury.”
Known for his often unusual musical and programmatic decisions, Russian pianist Melnikov discovered a career-long interest in historically-informed performance practice at an early age. He is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, and as a young musician he was awarded important prizes at the International Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau (1989) and the Concours Musical Reine Elisabeth in Brussels (1991).
As a soloist, Melnikov has performed with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Munich BBC Philharmonic, and l’Orchestre des Champs-Élysées. His recordings have received high praise and awards, including a Gramophone Award, Grammy nomination, BBC Music Magazine Award, Choc de classica, and the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. His recording of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues was named one of the 50 greatest recordings of all time by BBC Music Magazine.
Together with Staier, Melnikov developed a program that sets excerpts from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in musical dialogue with Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues. Recently the artists recorded the all-Schubert program of four-hand pieces to be performed in Middlebury. Intensive chamber music collaborations are an essential part of Melnikov’s work; past partners include cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, another Performing Arts Series alumnus.
German pianist Staier’s indisputable musical mastery has made its mark on the interpretation of baroque, classical and romantic repertoire for period instruments. Acknowledged by his peers and a wider audience, Staier continues to defend intellectual and artistic standards in both known and neglected works for the keyboard.
He performs with orchestras and festivals throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia, including appearances at Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London; Carnegie Hall and Frick Collection in New York; Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; and Toppan Hall and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
Staier performs regularly as a chamber musician with renowned musicians, including Melnikov, actresses Senta Berger and Vanessa Redgrave, and tenor Christoph Prégardien. His recording catalogue boasts numerous awards including a Diapason d’or, the 2002 Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and a 2011 Baroque Instrumental Gramophone Award.
Catch this class-act this Friday, 7:30 p.m., at the MAC’s Robison Hall. Tickets are $30 for adults; $25 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, emeriti, and alumni; $10 for youth; and $6 for Middlebury College students. Tickets for PASS members are discounted. Tickets are on sale at 802-443-MIDD (6433) or middlebury.edu/arts/tickets.
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