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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Acclaimed Piano Stars Shine at Conservatory

Moscow ConservatoryMelnikov has won many international piano prizes.��

This weekend is a treat for piano music lovers as two world-renowned pianists, Alexander Gavrilyuk and Alexander Melnikov, perform in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on Saturday and Sunday evening.

The Ukrainian Gavrilyuk will give a recital Saturday evening as part of his 2009 world tour. He is a highly decorated representative of the new generation of post-Soviet Eastern European pianists. Born in 1984 in Kharkov, Ukraine, into a musical family, he began his piano studies at the age of 7. At the age of only 15, he won the 1999 Vladimir Horowitz Competition. A year later, he took the Hamamatsu Competition, where critics hailed him as "the best 16-year-old pianist of the late 20th century."

Most notably, he won the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein Competition in 2005 and has been praised for his virtuosity and a dark, intense and ferociously concentrated sound. The New York Times has called him "a world-class pianist, performing at his absolute best."

Gavrilyuk is especially well-known for his interpretation of Russian composers, and he is currently recording Sergei Prokofiev's five Piano Concertos with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy. After living in Australia for several years, he has now settled in Moscow.

On Saturday, he will play Mozart's Sonata No. 19 in D major, the "Variations on a Theme by Paganini" by Brahms in A minor, Busoni's piano transcription of Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and, in what will promise to be the highlight of the evening, Rachmaninov's grand Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor.

Moscow State Philharmonic Society
Gavrilyuk is currently recording Prokofiev's concertos.
Alexander Melnikov, who will perform this May, is regarded as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Born in 1973 in Moscow, he is a true exponent of the Russian piano school. He began studying music at the age of 6 at the Moscow Central Music School and went on to the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Naumov, who has often been nicknamed "the godfather of the Russian piano school." He also enjoyed close ties with Svyatoslav Richter, arguably the most famous Russian pianist of the 20th century.

Melnikov, whose second passion is aviation, won numerous competitions in his younger years, including the 1989 Schumann Competition in Zwickau, Germany, and the 1991 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. In recent years, Harmonia Mundi has also released several of his albums of recitals and chamber music, all greeted with great critical acclaim as he has burnished a reputation as an excellent chamber music interpreter, playing with the likes of violinist Vadim Repin and pianist Boris Berezovsky.

Considering that his program is purely made up of Rachmaninov, including his "Variations on a Theme By Corelli" as well as his Etudes Tableaux opus 39, the evening promises to become a celebration of Russian piano art. The program is complemented by Rachmaninov's beautiful Cello Sonata in G Minor, performed together with Finnish cellist Jan-Erik Gustafsson.

Note: Pianist Alexander Melnikov fell ill since the publication of this article and therefore will not be able to give his recital this Sunday,
April 12. Instead, he will perform May 26 at the same venue.

Alexander Gavrilyuk performs at 7 p.m. on April 11 at the Moscow Conservatory Great Hall, 13 Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa. Metro Pushkinskaya, Biblioteka Imeni Lenina. Tel. 629-9401/7412/8183.