Piano

Inon Barnatan

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times)

Credit: Marco Borggreve

Introduction

Celebrated for his poetic sensibility, probing intellect, and consummate artistry, Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan is embarking on his third and final season as the inaugural Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic, appearing as soloist in subscription concerts, taking part in regular chamber performances, and acting as ambassador for the orchestra.

In the 2016/17 season he debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under the baton of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Jesús López-Cobos, the Baltimore Symphony under Vasily Petrenko, and the Seattle Symphony under Ludovic Morlot. He returns to the New York Philharmonic under Manfred Honeck, and embarks on three tours: of the U.S. with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of Europe with his frequent recital partner Alisa Weilerstein, and of the U.S. again performing a trio program with Weilerstein and clarinetist Anthony McGill, including a concert at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Other highlights include concerto performances in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, the complete Beethoven concerto cycle in Marseille, and several concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall.


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Performance Schedule

 
  • 14 Aug 17 Ravel Piano Concerto in G major BBC Symphony Orchestra
    BBC Proms
    More info  

    “The superlative soloist […] Barnatan eased into the second subject with a perfect mixture of tender phrasing and precise detail.”

    “The Finale was a thrilling meeting of pianistic and orchestral virtuosity.”

    Steve Lomas, Classical Source, 15 Aug 17

    “Before the Turnage, the Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan glittered in Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto, hand in glove with Ono’s beat and a very alert BBCSO”

    Geoff Brown, The Times, 16 Aug 17

    “Inon Barnatan gave a refined performance of effortless virtuosity, skipping lightly through the fancy passagework.”

    “[Inon’s] encore – Mendelssohn’s Rondo capriccioso in E major Op.14 – [provides an] opportunity to enjoy Barnatan’s full expressive range and depth, from elegance to bombast, from majesty to impishness.”

    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 15 Aug 17

     

  • 26 May 17 Gershwin Chicago Symphony Orchestra, May 17
    More info  

    “What sparks there were flew in the middle portion of the program, which held a performance by pianist Inon Barnatan of the Gershwin Piano Concerto in F so hot that it would have burned your fingers, if in a singularly pleasurable way.”

    “His fingers were like perfectly timed pistons as he attacked coiled-spring rhythms, two-fisted chords and insidiously hummable tunes straight out of a smoke-filled Jazz Age night club. Brilliant pianistic technique served an utterly natural command of the Gershwin style: The honky-tonk piano episode of the opening movement and the whole of the driving finale were pure delight.

    Where Barnatan really came into his own was the slow movement, which he properly treated like a dreamy jazz improvisation, teasing the curling melodies as if channeling the great Gershwin’s own piano playing.”

    John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, 26 May 17

    “Inon Barnatan gave Gershwin’s neglected concerto the kind of committed, flamboyant and wholly idiomatic performance of which one can believe the composer himself would have whole-heartedly approved.”

    “…the Israeli pianist didn’t put a finger wrong. He showed himself fully in synch with Gershwin’s deceptively tricky style, bringing the rhythmic snap and sassy exuberance to the insistent, jazz-inflected syncopations of the first movement’s urban bustle. In the Adagio Barnatan brought the right nocturnal musing, with a magical, nuanced touch in the cadenza. The brief finale begins full tilt and never lets up. Barnatan fairly attacked the repeated-note theme with nimble athleticism and bracing bravura, culminating in an aptly rousing coda.”

    Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 26 May 17

  • 19 Mar 17 Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9
    Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Arsht Center, Miami
    More info  

    “Yet the big news at this final season concert of the Arsht Center’s classical series was the performance of the superbly gifted Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan.

    “Barnatan’s technique is impeccable and it is wedded to probing musicianship. He consistently brings out the inner depth and emotion beneath a score’s surface brilliance.

    … Barnatan’s reading of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major (‘Jeunehomme’) was both nimble and patrician. He breezed through the first movement with dexterity. Trills and ornaments were assayed with spot-on accuracy. The exchanges between piano and winds came across with the subtle teamwork of chamber music players.

    In the weightier Andantino, he conveyed the music’s darker undertones while maintaining a light and elegant touch. The finale is one of Mozart’s most clever and inventive rondos and Barnatan turned it into a fine display of virtuosity while the minuet-like interlude was given stylish classical grace. By any standard, Barnatan displayed exceptional Mozart playing.”

    Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review, 19 March 2017

  • 07 Mar 17 Duo Recital with ALISA WEILERSTEIN: 7 March 2017
    Wigmore Hall, London
    More info  

    “Upon Weilerstein’s embarkation on Beethoven’s D major Sonata, her accompanist Inon Barnatan flowed in and out of drastic changes with ease: sumptuously alternating between savagery and smooth idylls… Yet the vast body of the evening’s artistry was the mastery applied by both soloist and accompanist to more modern works. As soon as Weilerstein stepped into the characterisation of Samuel Barber’s Op.6 Sonata, her execution assumed a different mask altogether. Sporadic leaps across the stave were manic, dusty and choleric and Barnatan mirrored this eeriness in his spooked playing… However, even this performance was inferior compared to the enlightenment that crowned the evening. In Britten’s Cello Sonata in C major, the very skeletal component of the cello was unveiled. During this time Barnatan created transfixing and obsessive ruminations from arrays of trills, exploiting the pedals to induce a plethora of sounds from the piano’s own entrails. Altogether this for the most part was no concert, but rather an evening of unearthing discoveries.”

    ★★★★ Sophia Lambton, Bachtrack, 9 March 2017

    “On one hand the spruce Inon Barnatan is the most attentive of pianists. To ensure togetherness he’s constantly checking Weilerstein’s tempo and temperature. He delights in playing cat and mouse — such as the way he chased her tail in the wicked fugal finale to Beethoven’s Op 102 No 2. He can also, in his enthusiasm, turn his fingers into hammering steel rods, definitely tipping the volatile sound balance his way. Nothing, however, permanently eats into the joys of hearing and watching two strong personalities criss-crossing, intermingling.”

    ★★★★★ Geoff Brown, The Times, 9 March 2016

  • 16 Feb 17 Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1: 15 February 2017
    NY Philharmonic/Manfred Honeck, David Geffen Hall
    More info  

    “Barnatan is in his third and final season as the Philharmonic’s first Artist-in-Association, a position designed to develop and boost the careers of talented young artists. Here’s hoping it pays off, because for the past three seasons the pianist has done nothing but impress.

    … Barnatan delivered a vibrant performance, beautiful and
    thrilling. His technique is supreme, and he displayed it via an ultra-smooth legato that still allowed for clear articulation of each note in a phrase—and in this concerto, there are multiple ascending and descending sixteenth note phrases that extend across multiple measures. With playing like this, the music
    flowed like a river.

    Barnatan maintained absolutely steady tempos, which as Artur
    Rubinstein demonstrated, is a fruitful interpretative path with Beethoven, whose music is built on syncopation and rhythmic tension. This was an ideal tack for the concerto, as it made for complete coordination between soloist and orchestra—integrated attacks and cadences had a satisfying weight.

    The steady tempos also paid off in the contrast with the
    cadenza in the first movement. The pianists played Beethoven’s original cadenzas, and the first one is enormous. Barnatan played with a sense of velocity that was all the more exciting for his ease of control, and his steadiness brought out the structural invention in the music. Then his judicious modulations of tempo brought out the improvisational flair and depths that sounded as if they were coming straight out of Beethoven’s own hands.

    That feeling was consistent with Barnatan’s pianism
    non-showy and dedicated to the music. The Largo was lovely and understated, and the Rondo finale (like the cheeky grace notes in the opening movement) full of vivacious humor.”

  • 20 Oct 16 Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2: 20 October 2016
    Gewandhausorchester/Alan Gilbert, Gewandhaus Leipzig
    More info  

    “Barnatan doesn’t place his bet on the heavy paw of the later Titan in Vienna but, instead, on the spark which extends even more to Mozart’s than it does to Haydn and short-circuits Beethoven’s future with his ancestors. Barnatan is the perfect pianist for this attitude which is as witty as it is relaxed: the delicacy of his keystroke, the richness of the watercolours, which he applies onto the canvas of orchestral multitude without ever allowing them to ever dissolve into each other, his elegant art of phrasing, which allows him to subtly sing even the most exuberant passages and cascades to their natural end, the ingenious refinement he applies to continuously bring alluring details to light without ever stalling the flow – these are the tools with which he chisels the sublime masterpiece of the classical artist from this early Beethoven.”

    “Barnatan setzt nicht auf die Pranke des späteren Titanen in Wien,sondern auf den Funken, der mehr noch als zu Mozart auf Haydn weist, Beethovens Zukunft mit den Ahnen kurzschließt. Für diese so gewitzte wie gelöste Musizierhaltung ist Barnatan der perfekte Pianist: Die Delikatesse seines Anschlags, der Reichtum der Aquarell-Farben, die er in orchestraler Vielfalt aufträgt, ohne dass sie je ineinanderflössen, seine elegante Phrasierungskunst, die ihn selbst die quirligsten Passagen und Kaskaden noch subtil aussingen lässt, die findige Raffinesse, mit der er fortwährend betörende Details ans Licht bringt, ohne dass dies den Fluss hemmte – das sind die Werkzeuge, mit denen er aus diesem frühen Beethoven das vollkommene Meisterwerk des Klassikers herausarbeitet.”
    Leipziger Volkszeitung

  • 15 Aug 16 Solo Recital: 13 August 2016
    Lincoln Center, New York
    More info  

    “At the penthouse later that night, Mr. Barnatan showed why he is one of the most admired pianists of his generation. He spoke to the audience about the heritage of the Baroque keyboard suite, then played his own reinvented one, which lasted nearly an hour. Beginning with a chaconne by Handel, he segued without break into various movements from suites and shorter pieces by Bach, Rameau and Couperin, followed by Ravel’s “Rigaudon” (from Ravel’s suite in tribute to Couperin). This led effectively to the premiere of a set of variations by Thomas Ades, music drawn from his new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” which just had its premiere in Salzburg, Austria. Then, after two “Musica ricercata” by Ligeti, Mr. Barnatan ended with the colossal fugue that concludes Barber’s 1949 Piano Sonata.

    He played everything brilliantly. By bringing together composers from Bach to Barber who spanned three centuries, Mr. Barnatan created an historical public domain for his rapt listeners.”
    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

  • 28 May 16 Mozart Piano Concerto No.17: 28 May 2016
    LA Philharmonic/G. Dudamel, Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA
    More info  

    “Barnatan’s playing was lively and wonderfully expressive.”
    Mark Swed, LA Times

  • 02 Apr 16 Copland Piano Concerto: 2 April 2016
    San Francisco Symphony/M. T. Thomas, San Francisco Symphony Hall
    More info  

    “However, it was in the second movement, the Allegro assai, where Barnatan truly shone; clearly enjoying himself in the ragtime snappy bounciness of the piece.”
    Mayumi Wardrop, Bachtrack

    “The sparkling young pianist Inon Barnatan as soloist…Barnatan played with a bright touch and delicious phrasing, leaving tiny bits of extra space that let the notes ring. His rhythmic sense for the music was excellent. Along with the orchestra, he brought out deep levels of burgeoning feeling and beauty in the first movement, and had the perfect, light touch in the finale.”
    George Grella, New York Classical Review

  • 13 Dec 15 Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3: 13 December 2015
    ASMF/Alan Gilbert, Cadogan Hall, London
    More info  

    “Inon Barnatan – poised, intelligent, crisp, sensitive – was easeful in his delivery…The first-movement cadenza embraced heroism and discretion, then the Largo, profoundly spacious, enjoyed Barnatan’s velvet touch, and the Finale had an impish quality to it, irrepressible and invigorating, the coda witty and merry. To a closely observed accompaniment – ringing with detail – some of Barnatan’s most-delicate rippling seemed better suited to Impressionism, but his artless approach persuaded and made for something continually innate and illuminating.”
    Colin Anderson, Classical Source

  • 16 Oct 15 Copland Piano Concerto: 16 October 2015
    St Louis Symphony/Steven Jarvi, Powell Symphony Hall, St Louis
    More info  

    “Barnatan, reading from a tablet propped against the piano’s music rack, nailed his manifestly challenging part, jazzy and serious (and the occasionally cacophonous) passages alike. (Jazzy won.) Copland wrote it for himself, and in some of it he clearly intended the performer to have fun. The pianist appeared to be having a blast.”
    Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Dispatch

  • 25 May 15 Solo Recital: 26 May 2015
    Wigmore Hall, London
    More info  

    “Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan’s star seems to be ascendant… No surprise, really; this is a pianist who combines a passion for contemporary music – the recital featured the world première of Sebastian Currier’s Glow – with simply the most astonishing lyrical gift. Vladimir Horowitz is supposed to have spent hours imitating the bel canto style, making melodies really sing from one note to the next, in defiance of the percussive piano’s natural decay after the start of each note. Barnatan is one of the few pianists I’ve yet heard to achieve this, with an all-consuming attention to the direction of melodies, to how one note ought to relate to the next.”
    ★★★★ George Slater-Walker, Bachtrack

    “Barnatan showed us all the ingredients of great Schubert playing in this movement – exceptional beauty of tone, a wide and finely calibrated range of dynamics, and an ability to make the piano sing. The slow movement opened in a simple and unaffected way but as the movement progressed Barnatan captured brilliantly the wide and extreme shifts in mood moving from soft dreamy reverie to deeply personal anguish and soul searching. The scherzo had a vibrant rhythmic drive and bite while the trio seemed to retreat into a quiet private place that was very moving. The finale was playful and enchanting and the wonderful melody in the central section was hauntingly beautiful…This was an outstanding recital that was warmly applauded by the Wigmore audience.”
    Robert Beattie, Seen & Heard International

  • 13 Apr 15 Schumann Piano Concerto: 13 April 2015
    Milwaukee Symphony/Edo de Waart, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
    More info  

    “After that tender, respectful moment, the buoyancy of Robert Schumann’s Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 54, did much to lift spirits in Uihlein Hall, particularly due to the deft and effervescent touch of pianist Inon Barnatan. Schumann, instead of featuring the piano as something to be accompanied by the orchestra, weaves an organic tapestry out of the two entities that is powerful, playful, charming, and, with Barnatan at the keyboard, was astonishing.
    Barnatan’s performance was incredibly athletic. He was able to pull a massive sound from the piano as easily as he tapered his sound to a whisper. From beginning to end, Barnatan’s interpretation of the Schumann felt like great chamber music. Sharing phrases with the orchestra with obvious attention to a partnership of the artistry he was creating, Barnatan’s technique was clear and accurate, and his stylistic intent was so natural that I wondered for a moment if he didn’t have Clara Schumann’s direct number.”
    William Barnewitz, Urban Milwaukee

    “Barnatan gave a mesmerizing and mercurial functionality of the piece, immersing himself and the audience in its many, temperamental shifts of mood. He moved from biting attacks and bold statements to light-handed, fluidly cascading arpeggios and delicate, lyrical lines.”
    Elaine Schmidt, Journal Sentinel

  • 12 Mar 15 Ravel Piano Concerto: 12 March 2015
    National Arts Orchestra/Matthias Pintscher, Southam Hall, Ottawa
    More info  

    “Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan was the soloist in another Ravel work, the bluesy Piano Concerto in G major. The crisp, urbane sophistication of Barnatan’s musicality suits this music perfectly.”
    Natasha Gautier, Ottawa Citizen

Repertoire

BACH
Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
Concerto No. 4 in A major, BWV 1055
Concerto No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056
Concerto No.7 in G minor, BWV 1058

BARTOK
Concerto No. 2 in G major, Sz. 95, BB 101

BARBER
Piano Concerto, Op. 38

BEETHOVEN
Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73
Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56

BRAHMS
Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Concerto No. 2 in B flat Major

CHOPIN
Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brilliante, Op. 22

COPLAND
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

GERSHWIN
Rhapsody in Blue
Piano Concerto in F

GRIEG
Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

HAYDN
Concerto in D Major, Hob. XVIII:11
Concerto in G major Hob. XVIII:3

JANÁČEK
Concertino

LISZT
Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major

MENDELSSOHN
Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25
Concerto in D minor for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra

MOZART
Concerto No. 8 in C Major, K. 246 ‘Lützow’
Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271, ‘Jeunehomme’
Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Concerto No. 13 in C Major, K. 415
Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K.453
Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K.459
Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K.467
Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595

RACHMANINOV
Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1
Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43

RAVEL
Concerto in G Major

SAINT-SAËNS
Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22

SCHNITTKE
Concerto Grosso No. 6

SCHUMANN
Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

SHOSTAKOVICH
Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102

TCHAIKOVSKY
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23
Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44

Download Repertoire list (pdf)

Discography