“After a long orchestral perambulation, black, sardonic chords were exhumed in the brass, which was Kirill Gerstein’s cue [in Busoni’s Piano Concerto] to unleash punishing chords that thunder up and down for at least a minute too long to take seriously. Entirely wonderful through the whole phantasmagoric, gargantuan, mystifying, hilarious thing, Mr. Gerstein — playing with the straightest of faces under the baton of Sakari Oramo — barely mopped his brow.”
The New York Times, 17 March 2017
Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s curiosity and versatility has led to a powerful engagement with a wide range of repertoire and styles. From Bach to Adès, his playing is distinguished by its clarity of expression, discerning intelligence and virtuosity. Gerstein’s energetic and imaginative musical personality has taken him rapidly to the top of his profession.
An American citizen based in Berlin, Gerstein’s career is balanced between the US and Europe where, in recent seasons, he has made his debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras. In Europe this season in addition to touring with the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Blomstedt, and RAI Torino under Bychkov, Gerstein will perform with the Bayerischen Rundfunks and Pappano; the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Adès; Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Oramo; and the Czech Philharmonic and Bychkov. In the US, he will perform piano concertos by Brahms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Muti, Bach with the Boston Symphony and Nelsons, and Gershwin with the Baltimore Symphony and Alsop.
In recital, Gerstein appears at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, the Rudolfinum in Prague as well as part of the Arthur Rubinstein Festival in Lodz, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in New York. Equally at home in chamber music, Gerstein can be heard on tour across Japan with Daishin Kashimoto, in a French programme at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and on tour in North America with Clemens Hagen performing Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas.
Autumn 2017 saw the release of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto in F-sharp minor with the Oslo Philharmonic and Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko (LAWO Classics), and the recording of Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire with the same forces. The New Year will bring Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson for myrios classics, joining previous recordings for the label which include Liszt’s Transcendental Études, picked by The New Yorker as one of 2016’s notable recordings; Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in the composer’s own final version from 1879; Imaginary Pictures coupling Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with Schumann’s Carnaval; two discs with Tabea Zimmerman of sonatas for viola and piano by Brahms, Schubert, Franck, Clarke and Vieuxtemps; and a recital disc of works by Schumann, Liszt and Knussen.
Brought up in the former Soviet Union studying both classical and jazz piano, at 14 Gerstein moved to the US where he was the youngest student to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Shifting his focus to the classical repertoire, he studied with Solomon Mikowsky in New York, Dmitri Bashkirov in Madrid and Ferenc Rados in Budapest. Gerstein 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 provided the funds for him to commission new works from Timothy Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen and Brad Mehldau. Following his belief in the importance of teaching, Gerstein taught at the Stuttgart Musik Hochschule from 2007-2017 and, from autumn 2018, will teach as part of Kronberg Academy’s newly announced Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Artists.