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Hailed as “a true poet of the keyboard, refined, searching [and] unfailingly communicative” (Evening Standard, London), pianist Inon Barnatan has been named as the New York Philharmonic’s first Artist in Association, a major three-season appointment highlighted by multiple concerto and chamber collaborations with the orchestra.
Equally commanding in recital, the Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient’s recent Kennedy Center solo debut prompted The Washington Post to marvel, “Although there was firecracker technique on display, it was Barnatan’s intelligence, musicality and story-telling ability that most impressed.” His 2013 recording of Schubert’s late sonatas reveals “superior playing, in which penetrating musicianship, compelling interpretive insight, and elegant pianism achieve near perfect equilibrium” (BBC Music magazine), while his solo album Darknesse Visible was designated one of the “Best of 2012” by The New York Times. As The Pianist magazine confirms, “Barnatan is one of the finest musicians. His new CD shows piano playing of the highest order. You don’t notice his finger work, you simply immerse yourself in the sound he produces…and you know that there are no technical limits to what he can do.”
To launch his unprecedented new partnership with the New York Philharmonic, Barnatan makes his subscription debut playing Ravel’s concerto under Alan Gilbert. In repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Andrew Norman’s Suspend (2014), the coming season also brings debuts with orchestras, including the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Susanna Mälkki, Orchestre National de France led by James Gaffigan, Vancouver Symphony with Bramwell Tovey, and Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec. The pianist looks forward to repeat engagements with the Milwaukee Symphony with Edo de Waart, Ulster Orchestra with Rafael Payare, and, under Matthias Pintscher’s leadership, the Atlanta Symphony, where Barnatan and the orchestra recently achieved “a musical coming-together at a level one rarely experiences in a concerto” (Arts ATL). In recital, he performs at London’s Wigmore Hall and makes solo debuts at Chicago’s Harris Theater and the Celebrity Series of Boston, where he returns for the culmination of a U.S. tour with his exclusive recital partner, cellist Alisa Weilerstein. Other upcoming chamber highlights include New York City dates with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jerusalem Quartet, Howland Chamber Music Circle, and members of the New York Philharmonic, with whom he performs Dvořák’s piano quintet.
This follows a full summer that takes the pianist back to the Hollywood Bowl for Mozart with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and to London’s Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, where he conducts Beethoven from the keyboard on a program featuring narration by Simon Callow. Barnatan also makes solo recital debuts at Warsaw’s International Chopin Festival and the Jacobins Festival in Toulouse, besides performing at the Aspen, Spoleto USA, La Jolla Music Society, and Santa Fe Chamber Music festivals.
In recent seasons, Barnatan showcased music from Darknesse Visible by Ravel, Debussy, Ronald Stevenson, and Thomas Adès in recitals at Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and such U.S. venues as the Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, and New York’s 92nd Street Y, where The New York Times admired his “furious flair” and declared, “Mr. Barnatan can do almost anything with tone…Heart wrenching.” Other highlights included a 16-city U.S. tour with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and collaborations with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Bramwell Tovey at the Hollywood Bowl, National Arts Centre Orchestra under Pinchas Zukerman, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Barnatan stepped in at the last minute to perform concertos with both the Atlanta and Cincinnati symphonies, proving himself “an engaging artist who communicates joy as he plays” (Cincinnati Enquirer). Besides giving duo recitals with Alisa Weilerstein in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, the pianist also embarked on a solo tour of South Africa, where he made multiple concerto and recital appearances.
Barnatan has long proven himself “a born Schubertian” (Gramophone magazine) who “has drawn comparisons with Schnabel” (Seen and Heard International). His most recent album, a celebration of Schubert’s late piano sonatas, was released by Avie in 2013 to a chorus of approval from BBC Music, Gramophone, and Sinfini Music, which admired the “dazzling range of pianistic colors and textures” he used “to trace the music’s underlying emotional narrative.” Reflecting his interest in musical storytelling, the pieces on Barnatan’s previous solo album, Darknesse Visible, were thematically linked, all being inspired by literary works. The disc was chosen as Instrumentalist CD of the Month by BBC Music magazine and as one of the top classical recordings of 2012 by The New York Times, in which Anthony Tommasini explained, “The thoughtful programming is typical for this insightful musician. But Mr. Barnatan’s extraordinary playing is what makes this release so rewarding.” The pianist’s solo album debut, a 2006 Schubert recording from Bridge records, was pronounced “musicianship of the highest caliber” by London’s Evening Standard, while Gramophone recommended the disc in its award issue, applauding his “sensitivity, poise, and focus.” Barnatan also teamed up with violinist Liza Ferschtman for a recording of works by Beethoven and Schubert, the second of which impressed All Music Guide as “a magical experience.”
Upon relocating to the U.S. in 2006, Barnatan was quick to make his mark on the American music scene. He won a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant just three years later and has performed with most of the nation’s foremost ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Dallas, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. He has appeared at key venues, among them New York’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and 92nd Street Y, and San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, and Boston’s Jordan Hall.
Internationally, Barnatan has performed with such leading orchestras as the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Shanghai Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, and Orchestra of New Europe. He makes frequent appearances at Wigmore Hall and Concertgebouw, besides performing at such illustrious venues as the Paris Louvre, Berlin’s Philharmonie, London’s South Bank Centre, and Frankfurt’s Alte Oper.
Barnatan regularly commissions and performs music by living composers, including Thomas Adès, George Benjamin, George Crumb, Avner Dorman, James MacMillan, Matthias Pintscher, and Kaija Saariaho. Next season he looks forward to premiering a solo work written for him by Sebastian Currier.
Highly sought-after as a chamber musician, the pianist was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program from 2006-2009 and continues to perform regularly on CMS programs both in New York and on tour. In 2009 he curated “The Schubert Project,” a CMS festival of the composer’s late works that has since been reprised at the Library of Congress, the Concertgebouw, and the Festival de Mexico.
Barnatan’s rigorous festival schedule includes a broad range of concerts at the Spoleto Festival USA, the Aspen and La Jolla Music festivals, the Santa Fe and Seattle Chamber Music festivals, and the Verbier, Delft, Bergen, Mumbai, and Heidelberg festivals overseas. In 2008 he received the Andrew Wolf Memorial Award, conferred every two years on a pianist for exceptional contributions to chamber music.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Inon Barnatan started piano at the age of three and made his orchestral debut at 11. His studies connect him to some of the last century’s most distinguished pianists and teachers. He studied with Professor Victor Derevianko, himself a pupil of Russian master Heinrich Neuhaus, before studying with Maria Curcio – a student of the legendary Artur Schnabel – and Christopher Elton at London’s Royal Academy of Music, and has since been taught and mentored by Leon Fleisher. In 2006 Barnatan moved to New York City, where he currently resides in a converted Harlem warehouse.
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