Christopher Taylor, piano
Taylor includes a wide variety of concertos in his repertoire - he will perform the Lutoslawski Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony next season, and returns to the National Philharmonic and the Madison Symphony as well.
Following his thoughtful programming compass, Christopher Taylor is involved in several fascinating projects - from the Bach Goldberg Variations performed on a unique dual-manual Steinway, to the complete Messiaen "Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant Jesus", currently in DVD release. A list of his engagements in the last two seasons includes performances for such distinguished venues and series as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Chamber Music Society, Spivey Hall, the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois, the Ravinia Festival, CaraMoór Festival, Duke University, Columbia University, La Jolla Music Society, Stanford University, Music Academy of the West, Voices of Change in Dallas, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Davis and the University of California at Berkeley. In addition he is frequently tapped for concerto repertoire from Liszt and Beethoven to Gershwin and Ullman.
At home in the U.S. he has appeared with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Symphonies of Colorado, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, the Boston Pops. Mr. Taylor has toured North America with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic. And with Orpheus, he has toured the premiere performances of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' "Sea Orpheus", including an appearance at Carnegie Hall about which the New York Times wrote "Christopher Taylor gave a brilliant, energetic account".
During the recent "Hope From Despair" project Taylor gave two performances of the Viktor Ullman Piano Concerto and the Concertino by Wladyslaw Szpilman with the Colorado Symphony. About the Ullman, The Denver Post wrote: "Taylor, a versatile, ready-for-anything soloist, delivered a brilliant, intense performance, adroitly handling the pounding, sometimes repetitive passagework of the opening movement. He then showed a totally different side, bringing a suave elegance to Wladyslaw Szpilman's surprisingly upbeat Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, a kind of Polish "Rhapsody in Blue."
While Taylor has a well-earned reputation for his exquisite performances of Bach and his exciting performances of romantic piano concertos, he has captured the attention of the music world with his recent tour de force programming of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus. "Before a rapt audience at the Miller Theater on Saturday night, Mr. Taylor, a lanky 31-year-old pianist who graduated summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard, gave an astonishing performance of Messiaen's complete "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus," more than two hours of some of the most complex and difficult music ever written for the piano. And he played the 176-page score from memory."
Christopher Taylor was honored with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, he is the winner of the Kapell Competition, the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition. He records for the JonathanDigital label.
Christopher Taylor's Biography
"Christopher Taylor, the superb soloist, brought a deep focus and ease to the outer movements' ebb and flow and a fierce dexterity to the middle section, "Edgy," a bustling workout that recalled music by Prokofiev and Raymond Scott." [Sebastian Currier Concerto]
New York Times
"the best performance I have ever heard of [Schumann's] Piano Concerto ... absolutely propulsive in its energy. Taylor stepped on the gas and delivered a sharp, driven performance that proved irresistible... showed how beneath the arch-Romantic surface, Schumann had a thorough command of Classical-era techniques."
Well Tempered Ear
"Mr. Taylor is more typically heard in heavier repertory, from Liszt to Messiaen and Pierre Boulez, and this concerto seemed easy work for him. In the fast outer movements, especially, the solo line was clean, bright and crisply articulated, and it danced off the page." [Haydn Piano Concerto in D (Hob. XVIII:11)]
New York Times
"...after two hours at the keyboard, Taylor had become a wild man in the thrall of a great vision, seemingly possessed of superhuman powers. Clearly forces beyond the normal were at play."
Los Angeles Times
"Christopher Taylor, a versatile, ready-for-anything soloist, delivered a brilliant, intense performance"
"...strengths in this performance included crisp coordination of piano and strings, keyed to Taylor's unfailingly alert rhythmic sense and bold sonority." [Brahms Piano Quintet with the Ying Quartet]
"But that Christopher Taylor... also played Messiaen's approximately 130-minute work flawlessly and entirely from memory was astounding. It is doubtful that many of us who heard Taylor's transcendent traversal of Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus for Cal Performances can imagine another pianist making an equal impact in such challenging music.... the performance was extraordinary. Taylor, who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard with a mathematics degree in 1992 - two years after he received first prize in the William Kapell International Piano Competition - is a genius. I doubt few present will forget how he lifted us to a realm beyond time and space."
San Francisco Classical Voice 1/27/08
"To tackle a handful of György Ligeti's explosive and intricate piano etudes shows a degree of bravery and dedication. To play all 28 of them, as Christopher Taylor did in a magnificent recital in Berkeley's Hertz Hall on Sunday afternoon, is a Herculean undertaking... [Taylor] seemed almost to shrug off the difficulties involved. It isn't that he made the performance seem effortless - no one could do that, nor would it be a good idea if they could - but that he incorporated the very idea of difficulty into the essence of the performance."
San Francisco Chronicle
"But most of the études are vehemently intense and ferociously difficult...Mr. Taylor played them all with incisive rhythm, lucid textures and, where the music allowed, alluring colors. Still, the sheer effort involved in playing these works was something to behold."
New York Times
"Taylor's playing - emotionally volatile yet scrupulously weighted and voiced - worked hand-in-glove with McDuffie's."
"...the blazing performance of Messiaen's ''Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jesus'' by Christopher Taylor in the Gardner Museum is likely to stand as a point of reference for many seasons to come."
"Throughout Mr. Taylor played with unflagging energy and an impressive ability to articulate and even swing those complex rhythms. There was a mesmerizing self-possession in these performances, as if a vigorous dialogue between pianist and composer were taking place entirely inside Mr. Taylor's head and simply finding expression in his fingers. The nature of the discussion was anyone's guess, but it was a pleasure to listen in."
The New York Times
"...and his performance of three of William Bolcom's splendid "Twelve New Etudes" [was] delivered with a daring spontaneity that masked some phenomenal technique"
"...his performance was a highlight of the season and already represents an astonishing achievement."
The New York Times
"...Taylor really nailed it, certainly deserving the multiple bows he gave and standing ovation he got when it was over. He drew a plump, cushy sound from the big Steinway." (with The St. Louis Symphony)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"The young pianist Christopher Taylor is so talented it's almost frightening...Taylor revealed limpid, legato lines of plaintive beauty. His ear was alert to the fantasy and drama in this work."
The Boston Globe
"Taylor returned to the stage...and once again displayed a remarkable combination of brain, heart and fingers. In past appearances here, he has demonstrated his ability to bound from Bach to Messiaen, from Rachmaninoff to Boulez - and do it all persuasively. Taylor can do it all."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Taylor made the Steinway work, finding a curiously successful balance between the distinct articulation required for the terraced baroque textures and propelling momentum of the Allegros with the absolute legato of a Chopin cantilena in the Adagio." (with The Polish Chamber Philharmonic)
"A stunning new recording of William Bolcom's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Twelve New Etudes" (1977-86) features Christopher Taylor... [The etudes] require a pianist of equally nimble intelligence and imagination - not to mention physical endurance - and Taylor is more than up to the challenge." (CD review)
The New Yorker
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Information on the Dual-Manual Steinway
Goldberg 9 Excerpt
Dual-Manual at the Kennedy Center Video
Feinsmith: Place (from ELOHIM)