Sergei Babayan
piano | Armenia, United States of America, °1961
 
PIANO 1991 : Tenth Prize
Acclaimed for the immediacy, sensitivity and depth of his interpretations, Sergei Babayan's performances reveal an emotional intensity and bold energy, equipping him to explore stylistically diverse repertoire. He is known for his innovative programming, often including modern works by composers such as Lutosławski, Ligeti and Arvo Pärt, and extending the boundaries of mainstream repertoire for which he continues to be acclaimed, excelling in Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann as much as the Russian heritage of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Prokofiev.

A student of such legendary teachers and musicians as Gornostayeva, Naumov, Pletnev and Vlasenko at the Moscow Conservatory, Sergei Babayan was the first pianist from the former USSR who was able to compete without government sponsorship after the collapse of the system. Immediately after his first trip outside of the USSR, he won consecutive first prizes in several major international competitions including the 1990 Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition (now the Cleveland International Piano Competition; 1990 Palm Beach International Piano Competition; 1991 Hamamatsu Piano Competition; and 1992 Scottish International Piano Competition. He is also a Laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the Busoni International Piano Competition and the Esther Honens International Competition in Calgary, Canada.

Since that time, Sergei Babayan has had major engagements and concert tours throughout Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, South America, China and the US. His New York recitals at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, performances with The Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Detroit Symphony have been met with huge critical acclaim, as have his many subsequent recital and concerto performances throughout all the major cities in the US. His concert schedule has included performances and broadcasts throughout major European cities and extensive tours of Japan.

He has appeared in recital in such important venues as Salle Gaveau in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Warsaw Philharmonic, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Bolshoy Zal of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Mariinsky Theatre in St.Petersburg, Herkulessaal in Munich, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Meistersingerhalle in Nurnberg, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Brahmsallee in Karlsruhe, Beethovenhalle in Bonn and many others.

In recent seasons, he has performed recitals in New York, London, Hannover, Manchester, Bruxelles, Glasgow, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Grenoble, Tours, Warsaw, Tokyo, Beijing, Osaka, Sapporo, Rio de Janeiro, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans. Sergei Babayan has appeared at numerous major music festivals in France, Germany, the UK, Poland, Spain, China and the US. His concerts have been broadcast by WQXR, WCLV, Radio France, Polish Radio and Television, BBC-TV and NHK Satellite Television. He has made several highly praised recordings for the EMC, Connoisseur Society and Pro Piano labels.

His recordings of Scarlatti, Ligeti, Messiaen, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Schubert, Liszt, Vine, Respighi and Prokofiev have garnered high acclaim, including a "Critic's Choice" in The New York Times praising his "extraordinary technique and ability to play densely harmonized works with illuminating transparency and a daunting measure of control." American Record Guide joined in the accolades, praising his "phenomenal level of color and imagination." Of the recording of Scarlatti sonatas, American Guide said: "It can stand proudly beside that of Horowitz ..."

Sergei Babayan has appeared with many major orchestras throughout the world, including The Cleveland Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Nationale de Lille and the New World Symphony. His performances with the Detroit and Baltimore Symphonies were received with great enthusiasm by audiences and critics alike. He has collaborated with such conductors as Michael Christi, Valery Gergiev, Hans Graf, Neeme Järvi, Kazimierz Kord, Theodore Kuchar, David Robertson and Yuri Temirkanov. His concerto repertoire is constantly growing; at this point he has performed 51 concertos.

An enthusiastic advocate of new music and has an immense repertoire, Sergei Babayan's unusual and imaginative recital programming has always elicited interest and praise. Deep interest and love for the music of Bach has led him to study more recently with Helmuth Rilling. Always in search of the new, he studied conducting in order to deepen his understanding of the orchestra. In this role, he has already performed music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schnittke, Part, Vasks, Schedrin and Prokofiev. He was invited by Valery Gergiev to perform Lutosławski's piano concerto at the International "Stars of the White Nights" Festival in St. Petersburg with the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Sergei Babayan was appointed at Cleveland Institute of Music in 1992 and now holds the title of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Gilliam Artist-in-Residence. In 1996, he established the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy at CIM to assemble a group of pianists who wish to explore in-depth the instrument and repertoire.
Audio
Program
Final (27/05/1991)
Patrice Challulau Concerto : Ne la Città dolente, 9 Images d'Enfer, d'après Dante n. 4
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Sonata n. 3 in B flat major KV 281
Sergey Rachmaninov Concerto n. 3 in D minor op. 30
Sergei Babayan, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium, dir. Ronald Zollman
Semi-final (17/05/1991)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Minuet in D major KV 355
Paul-Baudouin Michel Persona per pianoforte
Franz Liszt Ballade n. 2 in B minor
Joseph Haydn Sonata in E flat major Hob. XVI:49
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la nuit
Sergei Babayan, piano
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