The French pianist Alexandre Kantorow, with two albums under his belt before reaching age 20, has played and recorded the music of Liszt, and he has the explosive quality the young Liszt himself must have had. Jerry Dubins of the U.S. magazine Fanfare even proclaimed Kantorow "Liszt reincarnated." That talent was more widely acknowledged when Kantorow won the gold medal at the 2019 Tchaikovksy Compeition. The son of violinist-conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Alexandre was born in 1997. He has been groomed for a career as a pianist for most of his life, studying with France's top teachers including, first, Pierre-Alain Volondat. At the Schola Cantorum in Paris his teacher was Igor Lazko, and along the way he has also taken lessons with Jacques Rouvier, Théodore Paraschivesco, Georges Pludermacher, Christian Ivaldi, and Jean-Philippe Collard. Enrolling at the Paris National Conservatoire he has continued his studies with Frank Braley and Haruko Ueda, then began working with Rena Shereshevskaya at École Normale de Musique. Kantorow made his debut at 16 with the Sinfonia Varsovia in Poland, performing Rachmaninov's fearsome Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and he made other early appearances with the Bordeaux Chamber Orchestra, the Orléans Symphony Orchestra, and the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra in Lithuania. He has won several top prizes in international competitions. Signed to the prestigious BIS label, Kantorow made his recording debut in 2015 with an album including Liszt's two piano concertos and the rarely played piano-and-strings concerto Malédiction, with the Tapiola Sinfonietta under his father's baton. He has rarely stepped into the role of his father's protégé, however. Kantorow's second album was a solo recital, À la russe, which won several awards. After that, BIS allowed Kantorow the freedom to choose what he wanted to record. His next recording was of piano concertos of Saint-Saëns, released in 2019, just prior to his appearance and win at the renowned Tchaikovsky Compeition. Kantorow established a pattern of touring widely while still a student and despite the demands of classwork, performing as far afield as Finland and South America. He was featured in the first season at Paris' new Philharmonic Hall (Philharmonie de Paris), playing Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. His interests extend beyond traditional repertory, and he has performed Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, in its original jazz band version, at French chamber music festivals.
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo
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Keyboard Concertos - Released May 3, 2019 | BIS
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
There has been a vogue for the music of Saint-Saëns in the late 2010s, which is all to the good, and the piano concertos especially have come in for increased exposure. It turned out that all they needed was some flair and enthusiasm; they're marvelous. This release by pianist Alexandre Kantorow, with the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow (his father), stands out even among strong competition and even considering that it does not include the most popular of the five, the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22. Saint-Saëns was paradoxical: he was a classicist who admired Liszt and was in turn admired by him. The delightful effort to reconcile Classical concerto forms with splendid virtuoso effects (the composer was one of the great pianists of his day) can be heard in all these pieces, but sample the second movement of the increasingly popular Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 ("Egyptian"), where a giant, sweeping Lisztian gesture on the piano fills the role of the first theme, while the second theme is a catchy melody Saint-Saëns supposedly heard from boatmen on the Nile. All the concertos require a pianist of both grace and power, and that is what they receive at the hands of the young Alexandre Kantorow, whose background is as a Lisztian. BIS contributes superior sound from the Tapiola Concert Hall. Highly recommended. © TiVo
Solo Piano - Released May 5, 2017 | BIS
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
All kinds of hype have attended the rise of French pianist Alexandre Kantorow (son of violinist-conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow), not yet 21 when this album was recorded in 2016 and released the following year, with one critic going so far as to call him Liszt reincarnated. One of the less splashy, but more significant developments was his signing at 17 to Sweden's BIS, not a label given to phenomena of the moment. The label does Kantorow proud with the wide dynamic range of its production at the absurdly named 4'33'' Studio in suburban Paris. You get warhorses here, with the Guido Agosti transcription of three pieces from Stravinsky's The Firebird the only pieces that could be considered remotely unusual. And you get an idea of how these pieces became warhorses in the first place. Sample the final Islamey, Op. 18, of Balakirev, of which Ravel said that his goal in composing Gaspard de la Nuit was to exceed it in difficulty. Perhaps he did, but Kantorow gets the feeling of the work's being at the edge of playability without losing its roots in the folk music of Central Asia. The Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28, has breadth and power, and the two Tchaikovsky pieces from 18 Morceax, Op. 72, breathe and rock. It would appear from this recital of Russian music that Kantorow is doing just fine apart from the baton of his famous father, and that he is indeed one to watch. © TiVo
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