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Yefim Bronfman tours Europe with NY Phil & wins Grammy nod

Grammy Award-winning pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman has a full winter ahead, featuring high-profile engagements with some of the nation’s leading conductors and orchestras, in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls.  Having been selected as soloist for “Europe / Winter 2010”, the New York Philharmonic’s first European tour since Alan Gilbert took the reins as music director, the powerhouse pianist will perform Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto in nine European cities, including London, Paris, Zurich, Cologne, Madrid, and Barcelona (Jan 21 – Feb 4), and as part of an all-Russian program at the orchestra’s home in New York, early in the New Year (Lincoln Center, Jan 7, 8, & 12).  Fima also performs Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic this week (Dec 10-13) and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra later in the season (Feb 10-13).  Meanwhile, outside the concert hall, the pianist has just been honored with a Grammy nomination for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting.

The Russian-born pianist’s predilection for Prokofiev’s music is no secret; the Los Angeles Times describes the composer as “a Bronfman specialty”, while the New York Times credits Fima’s “sizzling technique” with making him “a particularly eloquent Prokofiev pianist.”  Audiences on both sides of the Atlantic will have the opportunity to hear Bronfman in this signature repertoire when he performs Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, first on three nights at Avery Fisher Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center, coupled with Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony (Jan 7, 8, & 12), and then on tour in Europe.  It is a particular honor for Bronfman to have been selected as soloist for this tour, “Europe / Winter 2010”, which is Gilbert’s first since his inauguration as music director of the orchestra.  “Europe / Winter 2010” will comprise 13 performances in major venues in nine European cities: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dortmund, Zurich, Barcelona, Saragossa, and Madrid (see tour dates below).  “Yefim Bronfman, one of today’s greatest pianists, will enrich this musical journey with Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto,” said Gilbert when interviewed. Zarin Mehta, President of the New York Philharmonic (and brother of Zubin), reported how pleased the orchestra was to be joined by the pianist, who he described as “an almost annual guest with the orchestra at home in New York.”

Besides his appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Bronfman has two other key orchestral engagements this winter.  In February, he joins the Chicago Symphony to perform Brahms’s First Piano Concerto under Michael Tilson Thomas (Feb 10-13).  When Tilson Thomas directed Fima at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival, critic Mary Robb reported: “The Tilson Thomas-Bronfman partnership was spontaneous, dramatic, and secure, and created a wild, virtuosic ending.” Bronfman’s Brahms interpretations are also justly celebrated; when he performed the composer’s Second Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra this past October, observed:

“It takes formidable musicianship to grab an audience’s full attention with an entry as understated as this: Yefim Bronfman is the embodiment of such musicianship.  In an age of dizzying demand for new young prodigies, it is pianists like Bronfman who set the standard for any newcomer to achieve.  His truly flawless technique is a means to something of a protean quality in his music-making.”

Two months before his appearances in Chicago, Bronfman performs Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta (Dec 10-13).  The pianist’s association with Mehta goes back many years, from his international debut at 17 to this year’s Lucerne Festival.  Likewise Bronfman’s relationship with Bartók is longstanding and it was his album of the three concertos – described as “the recording of Bartók’s piano concertos the world has been waiting for” (Leslie Gerber) – that won him a Grammy back in 1997, also with the L.A. Philharmonic.

This year’s Grammy nominations were announced last week and Bronfman won the nod in the Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) category, for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The recording, released in April on the Deutsche Grammophon label, is a fitting document of the close 20-year friendship between the pianist and the composer/conductor whom the Chicago Sun-Times once characterized as “soulmates”.  Bronfman describes Salonen’s composition as “one of the great piano concertos of today,” and, according to the New York Times CD review, Fima “plays the fiendishly difficult piano part with stunning virtuosity.”  The Grammy Award Fima won twelve years ago for his Bartók record was in the same category, also with Salonen at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  With luck, the combination will prove to be a winning one this time around, too!


Yefim Bronfman’s winter engagements:

December 10-13
Los Angeles
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Zubin Mehta
Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 2
December 20
Poughkeepsie, NY
Hudson Valley Philharmonic
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2
January 7, 8, and 12
New York
New York Philharmonic / Alan Gilbert
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2
January 21 – February 4
European tour
New York Philharmonic / Alan Gilbert
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2
January 21, Barcelona, Spain
January 22, Saragossa, Spain
January 23 & 24, Madrid, Spain
January 26, Zurich, Switzerland
January 27, Frankfurt, Germany
January 28 & 29, Cologne, Germany
January 30, Dortmund, Germany
February 1 & 2, Paris, France
February 3, & 4 London (Barbican Hall), UK
February 5
February 10-13
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
February 14
Chamber recital

© 21C Media Group, December 2009

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