A Reflection on Vermonters in Classical Music

An interesting story by renowned Vermont critic Jim Lowe.

Can Vermonters, coming from a rural state without the tradition of the intense competitive music education of urban areas, turn out musicians who will be successful on the world stage? The answer, of course, is yes, but our young classical musicians do face a real challenge. Here are a few that I’ve had a personal relationship with. Perhaps best known is pianist and conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn.
— Jim Lowe

Review: Tolstoy and Beethoven in New York

A belated review of the Tolstoy/Beethoven concert back in November.

Hence the talks which are such a crucial component of the ASPECT program came from one of the artists—most engagingly—from one of the artists, Ignat Solzhenitsyn… The Bard Conservatory has initiated a multidisciplinary program, which gives young musician a liberal arts education along with their musical training, requiring the members of its Orchestra NOW to give their audience a personal, but informed introduction to the works they play. Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s rich and personable presentation seemed an ideal they could strive for… Mr. Solzhenitsyn had a distinguished partner in Mark Steinberg, violinist in the Brentano Quartet, which replaced the Tokyo Quartet in residence at Yale. They played an energetic, even exuberant “Kreutzer,” tightly knit, but allowed to breathe, enhanced by characterful phrasingeven idiosyncratic in places—which gave the performance an engaging personal stamp.

Review 3: Philadelphia recital

And one more review of my Philadelphia recital.

The slow movement was unfolded with an easy flow and yet a mordant depth of insight that rendered any questioning of Solzhenitsyn’s choice of tempo otiose. The scherzo was dashed off with seemingly effortless charm. And the taxing textural and rhythmic challenges in the finale held no terrors for the pianist, even in the Presto coda that used to throw even the great Schnabel for a technical loop; Solzhenitsyn followed it, in response to an enthusiastic ovation, with a well-chosen encore in the shape of Schubert’s Hungarian Melody, D.817
— Bernard Jacobson

Review 2: Philadelphia recital

Another review of my Philadelphia recital last week.

A stunning recital… a rock-solid digital technique fully at the service of an ever-more mature musician who continues to explore the internal inspiration for the music he performs.… Employing a vast variety of touches from seamless legato to clipped staccato, a broad range of dynamics from softest to loudest, and a flowing feel for which voice to emphasize from one measure to the next, Solzhenitsyn showcased these expansive miniatures in their proper context of harmonic adventure through melodic development.
— Michael Caruso

Review 1: Philadelphia recital

Philadelphia Inquirer review of my Philadelphia recital last week.

The strengths of the pianist found an expressive home in Shostakovich. Solzhenitsyn chose four of the Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, and each was of such boldly different character that they formed a satisfying portrait of the pianist. That golden tone drew you in at the start of the fugue in the No. 1 in C Major. This was the pianist as beauty. No. 8 in F Sharp Minor was about how making a circus of somber events can somehow just make a moment all the more inconsolable. The knotty chromaticism of No. 19 in E Flat Major gave Solzhenitsyn a powerful chance to contrast the proud chorale-like prelude with a fugue of fearsome clusters. He ended with No. 24 in D Minor, whose Brahms-like beginning didn’t last, and which seemed to evolve the pianist into an artist of fearsome intensity.
— Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer

Review: Shostakovich and Schubert

Jim Lowe reviews my Shostakovich and Schubert from Brattleboro last week.

Ignat Solzhenitsyn returned to his roots last Saturday, performing a masterful solo piano recital at the Brattleboro Music Center in honor of his beginnings… Solzhenitsyn proved a master pianist and musician of depth in his recital at the BMC’s new concert hall, in works of Franz Schubert and Dmitri Shostakovich. His brilliant performance of Schubert’s monumental Sonata in B-flat was very personal; idiosyncratic perhaps, but a powerful experience…Solzhenitsyn’s was a masterful recital by a master… Today, Solzhenitsyn is one of America’s important pianists and conductors.