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Sensational Russian pianist to debut with the NZSO in May

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

One of the greatest pianists of his generation will perform for the first time with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in May.

Russian Denis Kozhukhin, 32, will join the NZSO for the Love Eternal tour with the Orchestra led by acclaimed Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård.

"Even in a day when keyboard virtuosos are thick on the ground, Kozhukhin is special." declared the Chicago Tribune. Kozhukhin will perform German composer Robert Schumann’s popular and enduring Piano Concerto with the NZSO.

The pianist is renowned for performing works by a variety of composers, including Handel and 20th century French composer Pierre Boulez, as well as the Russian greats. "I don’t like to set limitations. I simply like too many things," he’s said.

Kozhukhin’s big break came at age 23 when he won First Prize in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. He’s since performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony, Staatskapelle Berlin, Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony.

Schumann’s only Piano Concerto premiered in 1845 with the composer’s wife Clara Schumann at the keyboard. It’s known for the strong musical partnership between the soloist and the orchestra, rather than being a showy virtuoso concerto.

The Wellington and Auckland Love Eternal concerts will also feature Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ extraordinary Sixth and Seventh symphonies, and Beethoven’s dramatic Coriolan Overture.

Maestro Søndergård mesmerised audiences and critics when he toured for the first time with the NZSO in 2015. His command of Sibelius’ Second Symphony in 2015 was hailed as "a performance of sweep and power from bar one".

Sibelius’ music had a big impact on Søndergård from an early age. "When I started to conduct I thought ‘these are pieces that I must get to know’. I instantly thought ‘this is music that will follow me the rest of my life’."

In March Søndergård conducted Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, where he is Music Director. The performance was praised as "beautifully restrained and intellectually resolute" by newspaper The Scotsman.

Love Eternal in Tauranga, Hamilton and New Plymouth will feature Schumann’s Piano Concerto and his haunting Manfred Overture, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 Linz.

Tickets to Love Eternal are available via (Wellington and Auckland) and (Tauranga, Hamilton, New Plymouth).

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