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Inon Barnatan – First Artist-in-Association of NY Philharmonic – Makes Concerto Debut

When naming Inon Barnatan as first Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic, music director Alan Gilbert described the Israeli pianist as “the complete artist: a wonderful pianist, a probing intellect, passionately committed, and a capable contemporary-music pianist as well.” Now serving his inaugural season in the unprecedented new appointment, Barnatan will make his concerto debut with Gilbert and the orchestra next month, giving performances of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G at Lincoln Center (March 19, 20 & 24) and in Greenvale, NY (March 21). A dedicated chamber musician, the pianist also joins members of the Philharmonic for Dvorák’s Piano Quintet at Avery Fisher Hall this Sunday (Feb 7), following their first chamber collaboration at the 92nd Street Y this past fall.

A major new partnership designed to foster a deeper and more rounded relationship between soloist and orchestra, the three-season Philharmonic appointment represents an all-too-rare opportunity. As Barnatan explains in a video interview,

“So often an artist comes and does their debut and if there’s a follow-up it takes years. It’s so great to see how the Philharmonic really builds relationships with composers and pieces … and to be able to do that with a performer is wonderful.” 

In the same clip the pianist articulates his own musical vision, revealing just what made him so natural a choice for the collaborative position:

“For me music is about listening and interaction, with the audience, with other musicians, with the music itself. I think that chamber music, concertos, solo recitals – they’re all part of the same entity. Each tells you different things about how to listen to one another, how to listen to yourself, and how to play the piano as more than a piano, but as an orchestra in itself.”

The vehicle for his first orchestral appearance with the Philharmonic is the whimsical, jazz-inflected G-major concerto of Ravel, in whose music Barnatan has consistently proved himself. His solo recording Darknesse Visible features the French composer’s La valse and Gaspard de la nuit, of which Gramophone declares:

“This is an account of Gaspard to live with as much as for its technical assurance as for the unsettling atmosphere of unease and malevolence with which the Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan infuses all three movements. Ravel’s dynamic and agogic markings, so crucial to the success of the work, are meticulously observed.”

The Philharmonic appointment helps cement Barnatan’s reputation as one of New York City’s leading pianists. In the present season alone, he has already undertaken high-profile engagements at a number of key venues. In solo recital at SubCulture’s second PianoFest, the New York Times’s David Allen found that “he demonstrated, in one of the most thoughtful and effective recitals I have heard from a pianist under 40, a sensitivity reminiscent of two other New York institutions, Emanuel Ax and Murray Perahia.” In a pair of chamber appearances at the 92nd Street Y, Barnatan played Dvorák and Martinu with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and members of the New York Philharmonic, and joined the Jerusalem Quartet for an evening of “Intimate Brahms.” And with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall, he impressed the New York Times with his “refined, sensitive pianism, … his wonderfully light touch and ability to find tiny shades of color in the most innocuous of phrases and harmonies.”

Next season, the pianist looks forward to a similarly full New York lineup crowned by two further orchestral dates, reuniting with the New York Philharmonic for Beethoven, and making his Carnegie Hall main-stage debut playing Copland’s concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Meanwhile, Barnatan’s upcoming highlights include a trio of solo recitals. For the Chamber Music Society of Detroit (March 29) and Calgary’s Esther Honens International Piano Competition (May 26), his program showcases Barber’s Piano Sonata, as at his recent solo debut in Boston, where the Boston Globe reported:

It was an amazing display of rhythmic, textural, and dynamic control. … The technical facility and imaginative sensibility for which Barnatan has been widely heralded were apparent throughout the captivating recital.

His third solo recital is at London’s Wigmore Hall, where he is a frequent performer, with a program that juxtaposes signature works by Schubert, Franck, and Ravel with the world premiere of Glow, a new commission from Grawemeyer Award-winning composer Sebastian Currier (May 24). This marks the latest in a succession of contemporary compositions commissioned by Barnatan, who recently debuted a new work by Avner Dorman.

He also embarks on a five-city U.S. recital tour with his frequent and longtime duo partner, MacArthur Award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein, with whom he is especially “temperamentally well matched” (New York Times). Culminating with an appearance in Boston’s “Celebrity Series,” the tour features the world premiere performances of a new work by 2014 Grammy Award nominee Joseph Hallman (April 16–May 1).

Details of Inon Barnatan’s upcoming engagements are provided below, more information is available at the artist’s web site, www.inonbarnatan.com, and high-resolution photos may be downloaded here

Inon Barnatan: upcoming engagements

Feb 7

New York, NY

Members of New York Philharmonic

DVORAK: Piano Quintet

Feb 12

Paris, France

Orchestre National de France / James Gaffigan

Presence Festival 

ANDREW NORMAN: Suspend

Feb 13
Leiden, Netherlands

Recital

Feb 17

Winnipeg, Canada
Westminster Church

Masterclass

Feb 18

Winnipeg, Canada

Westminster Church

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra / Anne Manson

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2

Feb 22

Beacon, NY

Howland Cultural Center

Howland Chamber Music Circle

March 6

La Jolla, CA

La Jolla Music Society

March 12 & 13

Ottawa, Canada 

Southam Hall

National Arts Centre Corporation / Matthias Pintscher

RAVEL: Concerto in G