Russian Pianist Performs at Middlebury November 18

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Alexander Melnikov Will Provide a ‘Concert Feast’ of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues

Russian piano sensation Alexander Melnikov makes his Performing Arts Series solo debut with an all-Shostakovich concert program on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall. He will play Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, op. 87, a tour de force set of works in every major and minor key. This rarely-performed masterpiece pays homage to the genius of Bach.

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Melnikov is an authority on this work; his 2010 recording of the 24 Preludes and Fugues for the  harmonia mundi label was greeted with rave reviews, including Classica Magazine’s 2010 “Choc de Classica” for best recording, and BBC Music Magazine’s 2011 Instrumental Recording of the Year. His interpretation was heralded as an “electrifying and rhapsodic” standard by the New York Times. Despite this recognition, Melnikov remains an exceptionally modest and self-critical artist whose abilities are entirely at the service of the music. After a highly-acclaimed performance at Vienna’s Konzerthaus in November 2010, Melnikov will bring this cycle to Berlin, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Middlebury in the 2011-12 season.

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Born in Moscow in 1973, Melnikov performed Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto at the age of 12 and was heavily influenced by Sviatoslav Richter. His involvement with historically-informed performance began at 18; today, it continues to play an important role in his repertoire.

Chamber music provides an essential complement to Melnikov’s activities. In addition to Isabelle Faust, his colleagues include Alexander Rudin and Jean-Guihen Queyras. He also performs as a member of a wind quintet featuring Teunis van der Zwart (horn), Marcel Ponseele (oboe), Lorenzo Coppola (clarinet) and Javier Zafra (bassoon).

As a recitalist, Melnikov has appeared in halls such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet, and London’s Wigmore Hall. As a soloist, he has performed with orchestras such as the Russian National Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, Philadelphia Orchestra (under Charles Dutoit), Rotterdam Philharmonic (under Velery Gergiev), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

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“Melnikov’s playing has wonderful colour and imagination … His pianissimi are astonishing, with long, meticulously nuanced passages often remaining very, very quiet, while, in the sculpted fugues, the intensification of volume runs to a purposeful plan … Everything is testament to reflection and skill, yet the pianist is not lecturing, but laughing, dreaming, lamenting and dancing.”—Jan Brachmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“His playing is always refined, yet resolutely committed. His great achievement is to be simultaneously conspicuous and discreet, both sensitive and full of character.”—Bavarian radio

The Alexander Melnikov concert will take place on Friday, November 18, 2011, at 7 p.m., at the Mahaney Center for the Arts, in the Concert Hall. Due to the extended nature of this program, please note the early start time; complimentary refreshments are served during the two intermissions. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. For more information, call x-6433 or go to http://www.middlebury.edu/arts/performing/11-12/melnikov-11.

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