Festival Bach Montréal presents

Sergei Babayan

J.S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I

Sergei Babayan has been dubbed “the magician of the piano sound”, not only because of his incomparable touch, consummate phrasing or breathtaking virtuosity. Rather, it is his carefully wrought and highly sensitive interpretations of any and all music from Rameau to Pärt, but first and foremost of Bach’s masterpieces, which make him one of the legendary pianists of our time.

The meditative focus and rare stillness of Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan’s keyboard artistry prompted the Hamburger Abendblatt to liken him to “one of those Japanese calligraphers who contemplate the white page before them in silence until, at the exact right moment, their brush makes its instinctive, perfect sweep across the paper”. Babayan himself has observed that making music should be open to surprises and spontaneous insights, allowing unexpected emotions to emerge and subtle shadings to evolve naturally. His thoughtful musicianship has grown over decades of painstaking musical explorations, and during the course of his career he has built a broad and deep repertoire encompassing well over sixty concertos and other works by composers from Bach, Beethoven, Ligeti and Lutosławski to Prokofiev, Pärt, Rameau and Ryabov.

In November 2019 Sergei Babayan was Curating Artist at Konzerthaus Dortmund, where he presented a festival of performances with his closest musical partners and friends, including Martha Argerich, Daniil Trifonov, Mischa Maisky, Sergey Khachatryan, and Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. Other highlights of Babayan’s 2019-20 season include debut performances with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the Toronto Symphony orchestra, piano duo concerts with Daniil Trifonov in the US, and recitals of works by J.S. Bach and Chopin.

Born into a musical family in Armenia, Sergei Babayan received his first piano lessons at the age of six from Luiza Markaryan, then was taught by pianist Georgy Saradjev, a leading representative of the St Petersburg school and former student of the legendary Vladimir Sofronitsky. Babayan subsequently studied with Lev Naumov, Vera Gornostayeva and Mikhail Pletnev at the Moscow Conservatory. As the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s, he became the first artist from the USSR to attend international competitions without state sponsorship.

Babayan made his breakthrough in 1989 with a consecutive series of competition victories, generating news headlines and attracting interest from fellow artists by winning the Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition (since renamed the Cleveland International Piano Competition), the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan and the Scottish International Piano Competition. Following his move to the United States, he joined the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1992 as artist-in-residence. In high demand ever since, he has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés, Konzerthaus Berlin and Munich’s Prinzregententheater, appeared at the Salzburg, Verbier and La Roque d’Anthéron festivals and worked with many of the world’s leading conductors, among them Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Rafael Payare, David Robertson, Tugan Sokhiev, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Yuri Temirkanov, Joshua Weilerstein and Nikolaj Znaider.

December 2, 2021 at 7:30pm
To purchase your tickets visit: www.festivalbachmontreal.com

St. James United Church
463 Saint-Catherine St West
Montreal, QC H3B 1B1