Imogen Cooper

Biography

"She is an outstanding artist, one of the finest pianists now playing. Go, listen, and wonder how many better pianists there are alive in this country, or anywhere."  Daily Telegraph

Recognized worldwide as a pianist of virtuosity and poetic poise, Imogen Cooper has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical repertoire.  During the 2013/14 season she will perform concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mark Elder and with the Cleveland Orchestra and Jane Glover. She will play solo recitals in the USA, UK and the Netherlands, which will include completing a cycle of Schubert’s solo works at the Wigmore Hall.  Imogen Cooper celebrated the Britten centenary year by performing two of his song cycles with Christianne Stotijn. One of these was featured in a BBC Prom and in Imogen’s second appearance at the 2013 Proms, she performed a Schubert recital in the Royal Albert Hall; a solo sonata and the Grand Duo with Paul Lewis.  

Last season, Imogen Cooper’s concerto performances included the Philadelphia Orchestra (play/direct), Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester with Mark Elder and a UK tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer. She also performed the Ravel G major concerto at the BBC Proms and Lincoln Center New York, with the Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music and the Juilliard School, conducted by John Adams. 

Imogen Cooper has a widespread international career and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony and NHK Symphony Orchestras.  She has also undertaken tours with the Camerata Salzburg, Australian and Orpheus Chamber Orchestras.   Imogen Cooper has played with all the major British orchestras and has particularly close relationships with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia, play/directing. Her recital appearances have included New York, Tokyo, Paris, Vienna, Prague, London and the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg.

As a supporter of new music, Imogen Cooper has premiered two works at the Cheltenham International Festival; Traced Overhead by Thomas Adès (1996) and Decorated Skin by Deirdre Gribbin (2003). In 1996, she also collaborated with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker in the premiere of the quintet, Voices for Angels, written by the ensemble’s viola player, Brett Dean. 

Imogen Cooper is a committed chamber musician and performs regularly with the Belcea Quartet and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton. As a Lieder recitalist, she has had a long collaboration with Wolfgang Holzmair in both the concert hall and recording studio (for Philips). Her discography also includes Mozart Concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia (Avie), a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall (Wigmore Live) and a cycle of solo works by Schubert recorded live and released under the label ‘Schubert Live’. Her first recording for Chandos Records features music by Brahms and Schumann.

Imogen Cooper received a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2007 and was the recipient of an award from the Royal Philharmonic Society the following year. In 1997 she was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music and in 1999 she was made a Doctor of Music at Exeter University. Imogen Cooper was the Humanitas Visiting Professor in Classical Music and Music Education at the University of Oxford for 2012-13.


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News & Features

Repertoire

BARTOK Concerto No 3

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
Chorale Fantasy in C minor Op 80

CHOPIN
Concerto No 1 in E minor
Concerto No 2 in F minor

HAYDN Concerto in D major

MOZART
Concerto No 5 in D major K 175
Concerto No 9 in E flat major K271
Concerto No 12 in A major K414
Concerto No 13 in C major K415
Concerto No 14 in E flat major K449
Concerto No 15 in B flat major K450
Concerto No 16 in D major K451
Concerto No 17 in G major K453
Concerto No 18 in B flat major K456
Concerto No 19 in F major K459
Concerto No 20 in D minor K466
Concerto No 21 in C major K467
Concerto No 22 in E flat major K482
Concerto No 23 in A major K488
Concerto No 24 in C minor K491
Concerto No 25 in C major K503
Concerto No 26 in D major K537
Concerto No 27 in B flat major K595
Concerto No 10 in E flat major for 2 pianos K365
Concerto No 7 in F major (2 piano version) K242
Rondo in A major K386

POULENC Concerto

RAVEL Concerto in G major

SCHUMANN
Concerto in A minor Op 54
Introduction and Allegro appassionato Op 92

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Media Player

Video


  • BRITTEN Notturno

Audio

Schedule

Recital, Chipping Campden

SCHUBERT 12 Deutsche Tanze D790
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata in D major op 10/3
-Interval-
SCHUMANN Romanze in F# major op 28/2
SCHUMANN Romanze in B minor No 3
SCHUMANN Scène fantastique: Le Ballet de revenants No 4
SCHUMANN Sonata in F sharp minor op 11

Recital, Bexhill on sea

BRAHMS Variations from string sextet op 18
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata in D major op 10/3
-Interval-
ROBERT SCHUMANN Romanze in F# major op 28/2
SCHUMANN Romanze in B minor No 3
SCHUMANN Scène fantastique: Le Ballet de revenants No 4
SCHUMANN Sonata in F sharp minor op 11

Recital, Bonn

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata in D major op 10/3
ROBERT SCHUMANN Romanze in F sharp major Op 28/2
CLARA SCHUMANN Romance in B minor No 3
ROBERT SCHUMANN Sonata in F sharp minor op 11

Recital, Wigmore Hall

BRAHMS Variations from Sextet op 18 arr for Clara
ROBERT SCHUMANN Romanze in F# major op 28/2
CLARA SCHUMANN Romanze in B minor from Quatre Pieces Caracteristiques op 5
CLARA SCHUMANN Ballet des Revenants, scene fantastique des 4 Pieces caracteristiques op 5
ROBERT SCHUMANN Sonata in F# minor op 11

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Chandos Records

Imogen's first disc on Chandos Records was released in Spring 2013.
 
Schumann Fantasiestucke, Op. 12 (1837)
Brahms Theme and Variations (1859)
Schumann Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)


For a selection of reviews, please click here.


"Imogen Cooper's artistic sensibility - highly personal, interpretatively penetrating, yet never didactic - reflects a sympathy with the music so intimate and compelling that it seems for the most part to transcend the very concept of interpretation...The result focuses equally on the richness, range and daring of Schumann's imagination, and on his stunning craftmanship as a composer."


BBC Music Magazine, April 2013


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SCHUBERT LIVE

During 2008 and 2009 Imogen Cooper performed the last 6 years of Schubert's solo works as part of the International Piano Series in London.  These recitals were recorded live for release on commercial CD on the Avie label. 
You can purchase these discs here: Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3

Selection of reviews available here.
 
“My love of and fascination for Schubert have been the most constant thread in my musical life and go back at least 40 years. I was always attracted by the mixture of a certain direct expression of humanity, in its joy, its suffering, its vulnerability, its fear, and the immensely large variety of musical and expressive means Schubert has at his disposal, and uses, to articulate this humanity. Over and above that, his sense of nature, his awareness of the numinous, not to say spiritual, were temperamentally things that I always needed too. Add to this his capacity to write a melody—or a few hundred melodies!—that break your heart, or make you smile ... how can you resist spending years with him?..."  
Interview by Colin Clarke,  Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2010
Click here to read full text.

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Press

Schubert

BBC Proms 5 September 2013

London

"Prom 73 began with Imogen Cooper playing Schubert’s C minor D958 piano sonata, allowing the labyrinthine outlines of this mysterious work to work their magic in the darkened auditorium. To see this quintessentially intimate music being rolled out for an audience of thousands – this was a very well-attended Late Prom – was to realise anew that Schubert’s piano sonatas are symphonies in all but name."  The Independent 09 September 2013
"Cooper’s phrasing was exquisite, the right hand octaves given as if floating on a soft breeze. In her reading, there were very slight degrees of rubato, which were integral to the success of both the Adagio and the following scherzo like Minuet, which Cooper combined without as much as a pause for breath. Despite the acoustic, her clarity in the finale was beyond reproach; Schubert’s private soundworld accessed with dignity but also with revealing insights into the torture and twisted thoughts behind this work." classicalsource.com 9 September 2013
"Imogen Cooper – why on earth she’s not a dame is a big mystery, though perhaps not if you look at the honours set-up  – can always be relied upon to draw you in to the light-fading of late Schubert. Sure enough, after the startling summons of the C minor sonata D958, she was achieving all her usual subtle, inscaped wonders in the second subject, shifting colour with the composer’s miraculous enharmonic key changes." The Arts Desk 06 September 2013

BEETHOVEN

Piano Concerto No 1

With the Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer. Royal Festival Hall, 22 April 2013

"...her interpretation of the work as a whole was as spirited an account as I have ever heard. While the slow movement had a singing warmth, the opening Allegro became an exemplary display of pellucid passage-work and subtly-shaded perspectives; the concluding Rondo – in which Beethoven plays tricks with the listener’s expectations – was mercurial from start to finish." The Independent, 23 April 2013
"The very spry Cooper sprang her own surprise on the orchestra when she plumped for Beethoven's longer cadenza - a thrilling little rollercoaster. But she was at her very best in the final rondo, which seemed to burst out from her fingers as if a higher power was in control of them." The Times, 23 April 2013
"Here was a model of light-footed classical elegance, which provided a highly distinctive setting for Imogen Cooper in the solo part. Her natural warmth played beautifully against the orchestra and she responded with playful energy and drama, not least in the long first movement cadenza." Finnancial Times 24 April 2013

Schumann & Brahms

Solo Recording for Chandos

Chandos 10755


"Cooper's immaculate technique and excellent sense of proportion reinforce her deep, cultured musicality in performances which are wholly exceptional in my experience: such clarity of detail and architectural understanding are to be greatly admired. Her immaculate pianism and thoughtful musicianship are a constant source of wonder throughout this disc, consistently placed at the service of the music and its composer." International Record Review, March 2013.
"Imogen Cooper's artistic sensibility - highly personal, interpretatively penetrating, yet never didactic - reflects a sympathy with the music so intimate and compelling that it seems for the most part to transcend the very concept of interpretation...The result focuses equally on the richness, range and daring of Schumann's imagination, and on his stunning craftmanship as a composer." BBC Music Magazine, April 2013
"Cooper's Fantasiestücke are less impetuous than some others, but this has advantages. With plenty of supple ebb and flow - flexible but never contrived or exaggerated - there's enough room to breathe and to take in the detail." International Piano Magazine May 2013
"Anyone recording Kreisleriana today is up against a vast field of competition; there is an abundance of very fine recordings. As a preliminary to writing this review, this week I have listened to wonderful performances by Lupu (Decca 440 496), Ashkenazy (Decca 470 915), Kempff (DG 471 312) and Anda (Testament SBT 1069). Cooper’s Kreisleriana can hold its own in the face of this stiff competition. Her tempi are perfectly judged, with excellent phrasing and superb dynamic control. Her interpretation is poetic, as in no. 5 (sehr lebhaft) and passionate, as in no. 7 (sehr rasch). Throughout she brings out the Florestan and Eusebius character of each piece. She clearly has a great affinity with this music." Musicweb-International April 2013
"As befitting a great chamber musician, Imogen Cooper’s strengths lie in
the detail of her playing and a finely honed ability to separate important
thematic material from accompaniment in thicker textures. While reflective moments are bewitchingly otherworldly in her hands, she finds power in the fast music without resorting to overemphasis..."
Limelight Magazine Jul 10 2013

Schubert

Recital, 20 February 2013

Perelman Recital Theatre, Philadelphia

"Two bits of evidence caught the artist heeding Schubert's notations while exercising the rarest imagination: the fluid consequences of letting emotions dictate wide tempo swings in the first movement, and, in the trio of the third movement, the idea that serenity in its highest form has the ability to leave the listener changed in a small but real way.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 February 2013.

Duo Recital 30 November 2012

St. George's Bristol. With Paul Lewis, piano

"Schubert's Allegro in A minor, D947, guaranteed an arresting opening, but here the music carried a tragic nobility, rather than merely becoming a stormy drama. The less familiar Andantino Varié in B minor, D823, was characterised by elegant phrasing, its sublime harmonies poetically realised. High point of the evening was the Sonata in C, D812, the "Grand Duo"; its symphonic architectural span was powerfully sustained. Yet, as one would expect from two such passionate Schubertians, it was the composer's characteristic extremes, where pain and ecstasy, nonchalance and intensity offer different facets of the same lyrical impulse, that touched most deeply."
The Guardian, 3 December 2012

Schubert

Recital: June 2012

Schwarzenberg

"Showing no trace of vanity, this noble lady [Cooper] is solely concerned with fathoming out the music. In doing so, she not only displays determination and a powerful touch, but in the passagework of the Impromptu in E-flat D 899, a jeu perlé that seems to take its energy from an endless source of sound." Neue Dienstag, 19 June 2012

Chopin

Recital: April 2012

Gilmore International Keyboard Festival

"There was the poetic flow and melody that she captured so well in the [Chopin] Nocturne. Finally, the complex and varied Ballade showed her ability to take the technical skill required for the piece and bring it to a new level." Kalamazoo Gazette, 1 May 2012

Recital: 26 April 2012

Portland

"She is that rara avis of a virtuoso who is also a consummate musician; one who thinks deeply about the composer's intent and realizes it...I wondered what it was that made Cooper's playing so unusual, and settled on the word "richness." Everything she plays, from a simple chord to a rapid cadenza, seems to have an orchestra behind it. The inner voices weave some sort of magic." Portland Press Herald, 26 April 2012

Mozart

Piano Concerto No 18 in B flat major K456

The Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder

"Imogen Cooper was the exemplary soloist in Mozart's B flat Piano Concerto K456, her every phrase carefully sculpted, every chord precisely weighted." The Guardian, 15 March 2012

Recital: March 2012

Minneapolis

"Essence seems to be what Imogen Cooper is all about...It was a performance of intellectual heft and emotional insight, the interpretations clearly shaped by decades of experience." Minneapolis Pioneer Press, 4 March 2012

Mozart

Piano Concerto No 20 in D minor, K. 466

Musique of the Baroque/Jane Glover

"Cooper was her own interpreter throughout her noble, immensely cultivated reading." Chicago Tribune, 3 October 2011

SCHUBERT

Trout Quintet

Takàcs Quartet, Queen Elizabeth Hall London

"The second half's performance of the Trout Quintet showed similar class, the three Takács members easily absorbing the push of Graham Mitchell's double bass and the pull of Imogen Cooper's piano into a common pursuit of joy in all its many shades. This was as life-affirming an experience as any could wish for." The Guardian, 22 May 2011

Mozart

Piano Concerto No 9 in E flat major K271

Philhadelphia Orchestra/Stéphane Denève

"...the performance was beautifully crafted, right down to fine details of interplay that revealed a lifetime's worth of experience embodied in the concerto's eventful three movements. For that matter, Cooper's mesmerizing treatment of the second-movement cadenza alone seemed to encompass a lifetime's experience." Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 March 2011

Mozart

Piano Quartets

Katharine Gowers, Krzysztof Chorzelski, Adrian Brendel, King's Place London

"For a quartet who cannot perform together that often they achieved a near-ideal unanimity of purpose. Mozart wrote only two piano quartets, which are highly contrasted works....The questioning phrases in the middle of the E Flat’s opening movement reached out with unfettered yearning. The central turbulence of the G Minor’s first movement worked up an almost symphonic storm." Financial Times, March 2011

Mozart

Piano Concertos Recording

Nothern Sinfonia

"Given the many virtues of Imogen Cooper's recordings of Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 24 and 25...the commanding accounts of the two featured here come as no surprise. As in that previous release, she shines as a musician of taste, temperament and style consciousness." International Record Review, January 2011
"...the qualities that make Cooper quite simply one of the finest pianists this country has produced make her perfect for Mozart duty." Gramophone, January 2011
"With Cooper you have the undiluted essence of Mozart through and through - unique, universal and, in most cases, ultimately Utopian. Long may this series continue." BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010
"As always, her passagework is exquisite - impeccably even yet full of life, never mechanical....The pianist and Northern Sinfonia are like one single, beautifully responsive entity". Sunday Times, 14 November 2010

Recordings

SCHUBERT Live Volume 3

12 Deutsche Tänze D790
Piano Sonata in A minor D784
Ungarische Melodie in B minor D817
Piano Sonata in C major D840
4 Impromptus D899
Piano Sonata in B flat major D960
Allegretto in C minor D915
Avie Records

Mozart Piano Concertos

Piano Concerto No 24, K491
Piano Concerto No 25, K503
Fantasia in D minor K397
  
Northern Sinfonia
Imogen Cooper, Piano/Director
Bradley Creswick, Leader/Co-Director

Avie Records