“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), Inon Barnatan showcases his extraordinary range this summer. In appearances on three continents, he plays two thoughtfully curated recital programs, a wealth of chamber music, and eight concertos spanning more than 200 years. Orchestral highlights include Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, both in Minneapolis and at London’s BBC Proms (Aug 1–6); Tchaikovsky’s First with the National Symphony and Bramwell Tovey at Wolf Trap (July 14) and the Chicago Symphony under Ken-David Masur at the Ravinia Festival (July 21); Beethoven’s Third under Vasily Petrenko at Aspen (July 27); and the Southern premiere of the concerto written for him by Alan Fletcher with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano (June 7 & 9). On a six-city tour of Japan and South Korea, he performs concertos by Brahms and Rachmaninov and a pair of contrasting recital programs featuring composers ranging from Schubert and Mussorgsky to Avner Dorman and Thomas Adès (June 16–28). Back in the U.S., he undertakes residencies at the Aspen Music Festival (July 24–27), Bellingham Festival of Music (July 6–7), Seattle Chamber Music Society (July 9–11), New York’s Skaneateles Festival (Aug 23–25), and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival, where he takes part in the Mark Morris Dance Group’s world premiere production of The Trout (Aug 9–12).
Minnesota Orchestra in London, NSO, and more
Last season, the Israeli pianist made his Chicago Symphony debut with an account of Gershwin’s Concerto in F “so hot that it would have burned your fingers” (Chicago Tribune). The review continued:
“His fingers were like perfectly timed pistons as he attacked coiled-spring rhythms, two-fisted chords and insidiously hummable tunes straight out of a smoke-filled Jazz Age night club. Brilliant pianistic technique served an utterly natural command of the Gershwin style: The honky-tonk piano episode of the opening movement and the whole of the driving finale were pure delight.”
He revisits the seldom-programmed concerto this summer, in performances with the Minnesota Orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä at the orchestra’s home (Aug 1) and London’s BBC Proms (Aug 6), where Barnatan was “the superlative soloist” (Classical Source) in Ravel with the BBC Symphony Orchestra last season.
His most recent collaboration with Vänskä and the Minnesotan ensemble was on a U.S. tour that culminated at Chicago’s Symphony Center. They played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, a work to which Barnatan returns for dates with the Chicago Symphonyunder Ken-David Masur at the Ravinia Festival (July 21) and the National Symphony Orchestra and Bramwell Tovey at Wolf Trap (July 14). The concert marks his first scheduled NSO engagement, and follows on the heels of his acclaimed first, impromptu appearance with the orchestra this past spring, when he stepped in as an eleventh-hour substitute.
That Kennedy Center concert was just one of Barnatan’s recent string of successful debuts. This also includes his first appearances with the Baltimore Symphony, where he “surpassed all expectations … in a brilliant debut” last season: in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto under the leadership of Vasily Petrenko, his “poignant solos brought tears to the eyes because they were so tenderly wrought” (Washington Post). Barnatan and the conductor revisit their interpretation of the concerto this summer with the Aspen Chamber Symphony (July 27), and the pianist returns to the master composer’s music at New York’s Skaneateles Festival, performing the mighty “Emperor” Concerto under the baton of Marcelo Lehninger in a free open-air concert of “Beethoven Under the Stars” (Aug 25). The “Emperor” was also the vehicle for Barnatan’s debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra last fall, and he is currently recording a complete Beethoven concerto cycle with London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Alan Gilbert, under whose auspices the pianist recently concluded a three-year appointment as the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Artist-in-Association.
Barnatan completes his wide-ranging U.S. orchestral lineup with a performance at Washington’s Bellingham Festival of Music of Saint-Saëns’s Second Piano Concerto, in which he has impressed the National Post with his “striking intelligence” (July 7).
Concertos and solo recitals in Japan and South Korea
On his upcoming Asian tour, the pianist undertakes two further orchestral collaborations, playing the second piano concertos of Rachmaninov, with Japan’s Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra and Rossen Milanov (June 22–24), and Brahms, in dates with the Gunma Symphony Orchestra under Naoto Otomo at Takasaki-City (June 16) and Ota-City (June 17). It was with the great German late-Romantic’s notoriously challenging work that Barnatan stepped in to make his “assured debut, and one much welcomed by the public” (Washington Post) with the National Symphony Orchestra.
The tour also sees the pianist perform two solo recital programs that reinforce his reputation for well-considered and imaginative programming. At Japan’s Musashino-City, he performs works that share the title Moments Musicaux, by Schubert, Rachmaninov and contemporary Israeli composer Avner Dorman respectively (June 18). When he played the same program at New York’s 92nd Street Y this season, the New York Times observed: “Sensitive and sophisticated, Mr. Barnatan might be the ideal pianist for the program he has chosen.”
A similarly creative solo program takes the pianist to Tokyo’s Toppan Hall (June 26) and Seoul’s Kumho Hall (June 28), where he pairs Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibitionwith Debussy’s Suite bergamasque, Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, and Thomas Adès’s Darknesse Visible, each of which was inspired by a literary work. All three compositions may be heard on the pianist’s 2012 album, Darknesse Visible, of which the New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini marveled: “The thoughtful program is typical for this insightful musician. But Mr. Barnatan’s extraordinary playing is what makes the release so rewarding.”
Mostly Mozart, Seattle, Aspen and more
Anticipating his new appointment as the next SummerFest Music Director of California’s La Jolla Music Society, the pianist makes a number of key U.S. festival appearances this summer. At Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival, he joins the Ariel Quartet for a performance of Schubert’s beloved “Trout” Quintet that anchors the world premiere production of The Trout by the Mark Morris Dance Group, whose much-decorated founding director has been called “the most musical choreographer alive” (New York Times) (Aug 9–12).
“A born Schubertian” (Gramophone) with two acclaimed Schubert recordings to his name, Barnatan takes part in another special program dedicated to the Viennese master at New York’s Skaneateles Festival (Aug 23), where, besides playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, he joins tenor Nicholas Phan and violinist Anthony Marwood for a program of folk songs (Aug 24).
Barnatan reprises Rachmaninov’s Six Moments Musicaux for a solo performance at Washington’s Seattle Chamber Music Society (July 9) during a residency that also sees him play Barber and Fauré with cellist Bion Tsang (July 9) and join Artistic Director James Ehnes and others for Chausson’s Concerto in D (July 11). The same haunting chamber piece is the vehicle for his collaboration with the Pacifica Quartet and violinist David Coucheron at Aspen (July 24).
To round out this full summer, the pianist serves alongside Wu Han, Ingrid Fliter and others as a member of the jury at Canada’s Esther Honens International Piano Competition (Aug 28–Sep 8).
Inon Barnatan: summer engagements
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat, Op. 83
Gunma Symphony Orchestra / Naoto Otomo
June 16: Takasaki-City, Japan
June 17: Ota-City, Japan
Schubert: Six Moments Musicaux, D.780
Avner Dorman: Deux Moments Musicaux
Rachmaninov: Six Moments Musicaux, Op. 16
June 18: Musashino-City, Japan (Musashino Hall)
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2
Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra / Rossen Milanov
June 22–24, Hyogo, Japan (HPACO concert)
Debussy: Suite bergamasque
Thomas Adès: Darknesse Visible
Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
June 26: Tokyo, Japan (Toppan Hall)
June 28: Seoul, South Korea (Kumho Hall)
July 6 & 7
Bellingham Festival of Music
July 6: masterclass
July 7: Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 2
Seattle Chamber Music Society
July 9: Rachmaninov: Six Moments Musicaux
July 9: Fauré: Élégie for cello and piano in C minor; Barber: Sonata for cello and piano
July 11: Chausson: Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
National Symphony Orchestra / Bramwell Tovey
Highland Park, IL
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Ken-David Masur
Aspen Music Festival
July 24: Chausson: Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D
July 27: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 (Aspen Chamber Symphony / Vasily Petrenko)
Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä
BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall
Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä
New York, NY
Mostly Mozart Festival
Schubert: Piano Quintet in A (“Trout”), featuring The Trout by Mark Morris Dance Group (world premiere)
Aug 23: “Schubert Up Close”
Schubert: Selected Impromptus for Piano
Schubert: Selected songs
Schubert: “Auf dem Strom” (“On the River”), D.943
Schubert: Rondo in B minor for Violin and Piano, D. 895
Schubert: Piano Trio in E-flat, D. 929
Aug 24: “Songs From Home”
Trad., arr. Beethoven: Irish Folk Songs for tenor and piano trio
Trad., arr. Britten: Folk Songs, incl. “Greensleeves”
Reza Vali: Two Persian Folk Songs for cello and piano
Trad., arr. Vaughan Williams: Folk Song: “How Cold the Wind Doth Blow” (tenor/violin/piano)
Debussy: Petite Suite for piano, four hands
Brahms: Folk Songs; Children’s Songs
Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25
Aug 25: “Beethoven Under the Stars”
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)
Aug 28–Sep 8
Calgary, AB, Canada
Esther Honens International Piano Competition (jury member)
Sep 2: masterclass