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Musical World

Murray Perahia

  • Conductor
  • Pianist


Murray Perahia press reviews / Awards

"…the essence of [Perahia's] playing…combines technical exactitude with great interpretative sublety and a marked absence of self-conscious flamboyance."

- The Guardian

"Perahia is a marvel."

- Los Angeles Times

"Some of the effect came from what remains of Bach in Mr. Perahia's fingers. The melody was always paramount: it has to be. But what the melody means was defined no only by exquisite phrasing, which implies a subjective, feeling response, but also by a clear and justly measured registering of the harmony, which could be just there, simply present… [In Chopin's A minor Ballade,] keyboard colors were vibrantly realized, melodies were as fresh as if they had never existed before that moment, and their embellishments were beautifully conveyed within and beneath the continuing line. The music was happy to be there. And so was the audience."

- The New York Times

"…superbly and analytical, gorgeously romantic and full of spontaneous surprises… [Perahia's] steady artistic development from purring elegance - which is still there when he needs it - to a ferocious leonine roar marks him as a pianist who invests great music with his own unmistakable personality but with absolute integrity."

- The Washington Pos

"Year in and year out, pianist Murray Perahia is that old stalwart, an interpreter whose instincts and technical finesse we have come to trust."

- Chicago Tribune

"…Perahia may be the closest thing to a pure conduit of music - one in which the imagination and skill of the player are entirely at the service of the composer, not the player's ego… The soul of a poet, the mind of a thinker, the hands of a virtuoso: No wonder audiences love this guy."

- The Seattle Times

"Everything Perahia played provoked the senses, titillated the musical mind, flooded the emotional receptors. His daunting program bestowed pleasure and variety on the listener while challenging the pianist. Perahia conquered all, illuminated all. The playing was beautiful, the experience exhilarating… The pianist seems to live every bar of music he produces, yet he does so without apparent strain or visible angst. This is his paradox: making so much heat, but remaining outwardly cool."

- Los Angeles Times

"…performances like Perahia's don't fade from memory… Perahia is never like some musical prophet coming down from the mountain; the pianist dialogues with the composer on the same level. That's why I've never felt dwarfed by Perahia's musical intelligence, only broadened by it."

- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Perahia's conducting was serious, sensitive and stylish. In other words, his conducting bears a striking resemblance to his piano playing."

- Washington Post

"[In Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453,] Perahia's pianism was filled with joy and energy, every note seeming to follow inevitably from the note before. The balance and timing between piano and orchestra were ideal, Perahia's sure hand as a conductor producing numerous perfectly placed point/counterpoint dialogues. It was a performance worth cheering for… From the very first beautifully shaped orchestral phrases, played with uncommon grace, Perahia brought to the fore the dialectic of personal suffering and unstoppable genius that marked the final year of Mozart's life."

- San Francisco Examiner

"There is a simplicity and purity to his interpretations, but also a clarity and drama."

- Saint Paul Pioneer Press

"This is not an artist who plays to the gallery; this is an artist who plays the music, focusing solely on it and redefining it in his own way… In Perahia's hands, each note has a separate life of its own, a separate importance."

- The Seattle Times

"Mr. Perahia seemed intent on reminding us that the Fourth Concerto [by Beethoven] is a masterpiece of the high Viennese Classical school. Overall, he played with clarity, elegance and rhythmic crispness, using the sustaining pedal sparingly. But in those passages where Beethoven specifically calls for the pedal to be employed, as in certain moments of dreamy lyricism in the first movement, Mr. Perahia did so daringly, creating a swirling, beautiful blur of colors."

- The New York Times

"Every run [in Beethoven's first piano concerto] emerged with crystalline clarity, every roaring passage had no difficulty filling the hall with majestic resonance."

- The Plain Dealer

"[Perahia's] coloring in the first movement of Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata was exquisitely graded and subtle, yet the effect was not of a pianist weighting one line against another but of a clear emotional expression emerging directly from fresh new music."

- The Washington Post

"[In Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata,] each note seemed a perfectly rounded physical object produced by the fingers of a meticulous pianist. Every note had its own body and weight. The left hand triplets, fragile and barely audible, were as fine bubbles that floated in air."

- Los Angeles Times

"At 52, Perahia has staked out a particular territory on the pianistic landscape that nobody else of his generation can challenge… His program here - Bch, Beethoven, and Schubert - abounded in heavy thinking, all of it delivered with Perahia's unique mix of humor and high drama, colored with a command of piano tone full of glints and soft, subtle colors… What he taught - to one- fingered me and to the budding young virtuosos in the hall - was a way of living in music, and of letting music live with you."

- LA Weekly

"A Beethoven piano concerto, performed by pianist Murray Perahia, achieved an Olympian level of technical masterly and tonal poetry… Perahia has a poet's soul and a perfectionist's passion… [His] interpretation was eloquent, his emphases varyingly and astutely delivered. His cadenza, one of the composer's, had a shattering gravity."

- The Philadelphia Inquirer

Selected Recording Reviews

"It's very much as music, to be considered in depth, that Perahia approaches the pieces, so that they accumulate as an emotional experience, not just as a physical marathon… His intentions are clear in the very first Study [by Chopin], where he brings a sense of awareness of the bass as the guiding intelligence behind the brilliant figuration in the right hand, overall, usually expressive variations of volume."

- BBC Music Magazine

"From the first work, [Chopin's] Étude in C (Op. 10, No.1), six pages of swift, keyboard-spanning arpeggios in the right hand with a boldly declaimed theme in left-hand octaves, Mr. Perahia seems determined to rattle assumptions that he is a poet of the piano."

- The New York Times

"Listening to the pure tone, clear articulation, and gathering intensity of the second movement of the Concerto in D [by Bach], or the bright songfulness of its final movement, I can't recommend these recordings enough."

- Fanfare

"Shout it from the rooftops (though it shouldn't be necessary): if Bach-playing comes any finer than this, it's in some other world. Perahia plays and directs as though he has thought about every note in every part (he may well have done), but every note is so perfect in its placement, duration, tone and articulation, so perfectly true to the enrapturing spirit of the music, that nothing gives so much as a hint of dispassionate calculation."

- BBC Music Magazine

"You hear the music first, the piano second."

I- nternational Record Review

"His new disc completes the survey with thoughtful, elegantly phrased and rhythmically incisive performances that are a joy to hear. Among many wonderful passages, the opening movement of the sixth concerto in F-major [by Bach], with the two flutes airily floating through Mr. Perahia's delicious keyboard arabesques, is possibly the most graceful account of this music on record… Conducting from the keyboard, he achieves a fine balance between modern pianism and the ornamental demands of Bach's idiom, his lightness of touch never compromising the piano's full range of expression."

"…with every beautifully tuned phrase, [Bach's Keyboard Concerto in D minor] dances off the page. This is playing of astonishing vitality and grace, and the ASMF, clearly inspired by Perahia as director, rises to the occasion with infectious excitement."

- BBC Music Magazine

"Spiritually, technically, structurally, from whichever angle you take it, it feels right: so right that you can forget about the instrument, the recording (top-notch, incidentally), the player, even the composer, and simply share in an elevated experience. Once in a while a recording comes along that really does seem to be beyond praise. And beyond praise all you really want to say as a reviewer is, 'thank you'."

- Gramophone

"Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' is the most recent, and the playing is the best Perahia has done… Perahia's approach is idiomatically pianistic, and his playing is full of the most marvelous colors and echoes and even some old-fashioned stylistic devices, like deliberately not playing the hands together. He is also responsive to character; there is a comprehensive range of emotion here, from Landowska's famous 'black pearl' (in which Perahia hears a crucifixion) to utter blithe buoyancy."

- The Boston Globe

"…the poise and lyricism of the exquisite playing heard on this meltingly beautiful CD [in which Perahia plays Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte]are worthy of comparison with any of the century's greatest pianists."

- Time

"On his own instrument, Perahia remains a master of touch, coloration, feeling, and musical imagination."

- The Boston Globe

Murray Perahia Awards

Seventh International Schumann Festival

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance

Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Music and Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (1985).[9] In 2007 he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of Jesus College, Cambridge.

On March 8, 2004, Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire. This entitles him to use the post-nominal letters KBE, but not to the title "Sir".

In 2012 he was voted into the inaugural Gramophone Hall of Fame.