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Alexander Melnikov

Influenced by Sviatoslav Richter in his younger years, Alexander Melnikov became interested in the fortepiano and has devoted much of his career to historical performances. He is also an enthusiastic chamber music performer on both the fortepiano and the modern piano. Melnikov was born in Moscow in 1973. A child prodigy, he performed Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1, at the age of 12. He encountered Richter as a youth and was invited by him to perform at festivals in Russia and abroad. Melnikov entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Lev Naumov. More unusually, he became interested in historical performance, still a rarity in Russia in the early '90s, at age 18. He studied in that field with Alexei Lubimov, a Russian pioneer in historical performance, and with Andreas Staier, who became a frequent collaborator; the pair has often performed the 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano of Shostakovich, with Melnikov on piano, and Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, with Staier on harpsichord. His recording debut came on the modern piano in 1996; he backed cellist Leonid Gorokhov on an album devoted to cello-and-piano works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich. Melnikov has performed recitals at such prestigious venues as Wigmore Hall in London, Tokyo's Suntory Hall, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As a concerto soloist, he has performed with the NDR Sinfonieorchester, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many other top ensembles. Melnikov has been particularly noted as a chamber music player, appearing in this capacity on both modern and historical instruments. He has regularly performed with violinist Isabelle Faust, and the pair's recording of Beethoven's violin sonatas earned the ECHO Klassik prize and a Gramophone Award. He has also appeared with cellist Alexander Rudin and Jean-Guihen Queyras, baritone Georg Nigl, and larger groups. He often performs with major historical-instrument ensembles such as the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Concerto Köln, and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Melnikov has recorded mostly for the Harmonia Mundi label, with a 2012 disc featuring the two Shostakovich piano concertos, under conductor Teodor Currentzis, recognized as a standout. In 2020, he and Faust released the second volume in a new cycle devoted to Mozart's violin sonatas. That series continued to appear through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Melnikov remained active; he released seven albums in 2021 and 2022 alone. In 2023, he released the album Fantasie: 7 Composers, 7 Keyboards, which featured instruments from his own collection. By that time, his recording catalog comprised some 40 albums.
© James Manheim /TiVo


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