Yakov Kasman, piano
Yakov Kasman has performed hundreds of concerts throughout the United States, Russia, France, and Asia, including recitals in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and at the Tonhalle in Zurich. He has appeared as soloist with dozens of symphony orchestras, among them the Buffalo, Oregon, Pacific, Syracuse, Memphis, Miami, Ft. Worth, Nashville and Alabama symphonies, the Moscow Philharmonia Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra, Orchestre de Lille, Singapore Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquestra Simfonica de Baleares in Spain, and the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra (South Korea).
In praise of Kasman's performance of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, the os Angeles Times wrote: "Kasman's style glimmers with the best of Russian schooling: the unabashed caressing of a line, the tempo liberties that dance around a solid beat, the virile technique and voluptuous sound ..."
Mr. Kasman has a growing discography including twelve CDs on the Calliope label, among them Rachmaninov's two piano sonatas, and the complete Prokofiev Sonatas, which received the Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du Disque. Other recordings include solo works by Haydn, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, and Stravinsky. and his award-winning Cliburn competition live performances on Harmonia Mundi, about which Fanfare Magazine wrote: "...it is Yakov Kasman's jaw-dropping virtuosity, interpretive insight, and sheer stylistic panache in Rachmaninov's rarely heard Piano Sonata No.1 that really grabs the listener by the collar... Fully attuned to this moody, atmospheric music, the keen architectural sense, idiomatic flair, and bravura the Russian musician brings to this music compels respect, and the multitude of notes at the first movements climax is astonishing in its power and articulative clarity."
Born in the town of Orel, near Moscow, Mr. Kasman began his piano studies at the age of four. A graduate of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory (followed by a professorship of piano at the Music College of the Conservatory), he is now Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
"Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata No. 1 has become a sort of signature piece for Kasman. He has almost single-handedly resurrected a work that everyone else ignored; for now, it belongs to him as long as he cares to play it. For the French Calliope label, Kasman has recorded a boxed set of the complete Prokofiev sonatas; a disc with six Haydn sonatas; another set of five of Scriabin's ten sonatas; a pairing of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with Stravinsky's Petrouchka; and a rare release of both of Rachmaninoff's piano sonatas on a single disc."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Kasman played delicately and powerfully as needed, with uncanny attention to detail, and with panache and flair. He opened with Nikolay Medtner's "Four Fairy Tales" followed by Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." The latter was a real event, inspiring a standing ovation midconcert---a rarity even for Fresno's generous audiences. Rachmaninoff's "Variations on a Theme by Chopin" (the latter the same C-minor prelude popularized by Barry Manilow) set the stage for another tour de force, Stravinsky's "Three Movements from 'Petrouchka,'" where Kasman became one with the ballet's diminutive but triumphant hero."
"...he gave an electrifying performance, filled with spirit, unpredictable outbursts, sudden depressions, sudden depressions, and thrusts to the outer limits: what a musician!"
Corriere della Sera
"The true climax of the afternoon came during the program's second half, when world-renowned pianist Yakov Kasman took the stage for Tchaikovsky's concerto Kasman does not so much play as live the music, and his generosity to the rest of the orchestra produced a truly memorable and balanced performance of lushly passionate work."
The Sun News
"...his scope, vision and virtuosity were all simply astounding (Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #3). In the lyrical, melodic passages his playing was subtle, tender, and highly musical. Where angst and despair were called for, he poured out heart and soul. And where power and virtuosity were needed, Kasman had them as well."
The Saginaw News
Mr. Kasman's debut in America in 1997 as Silver Medalist in the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth was the culmination of several competition triumphs and tours in Europe and the Middle East, including prizes at the 1991 Valentino Bucchi Competition in Rome, the 1991 London World Piano Competition, the 1992 Artur Rubinstein International Competition in Tel Aviv, and the 1995 International Prokofiev Competition at St. Petersburg.
Since his American debut, he has given concerts in the United States, South America, Europe, Russia and Asia, including recitals in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Paul, Atlanta, Birmingham and Washington, DC. He has appeared as soloist with more than fifty orchestras including the Buffalo, Oregon, Pacific, Syracuse, Memphis, Miami, Ft. Worth, Nashville and Alabama symphonies, Athens State Orchestra, the Orchestre de Lille and Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier in France, the Singapore Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquestra Simfonica de Baleares (Spain), Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra (South Korea) and the Moscow Philharmonia Orchestra.
Yakov Kasman's discography includes twelve studio CD recordings on the Calliope label. His two CD set of the recordings of the complete sonatas of Prokofiev was awarded the "Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du Disque" in France in 1996. Other CDs include solo works by Haydn, Scriabin, Stravinsky, and Rachmaninov. The International Piano Quarterly magazine recommended his CD of Moussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" as one of 14 equally ranked best in a survey of recordings over the past 75 years. His recording of Shostakovich's Concerto No. 1, and Schnittke's Concerto for Piano and Strings, released in 2000, received the "Choc du monde de la musique" award in France, is rated highest for artistry and sound quality by Classics Today.com, and referred to as "superlative" in the American Record Guide. He has also recorded two CDs with Harmonia Mundi, the most recent one with the Pacific Symphony includes Piano Concerto No. 2 by Lukas Foss, released in 2001. In 2003 he completed recording of all Scriabin piano sonatas and in 2004 recorded an All-Tchaikovsky CD featuring "The Seasons" and Grand Sonata in G-Major (Rated 10/10 by ClassicsTodayFrance.com in December 2005)
Born in the city of Orel, near Moscow, Mr. Kasman began his piano studies at the age of five. A graduate and postgraduate of the Moscow Conservatory and previously a professor of piano at the Music College of the Conservatory, he is now Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His students are winners of regional and national competitions.
Los Angeles Times
"Yakov Kasman seems a veteran knighted by Richter...One understands why at the listening of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2, all together volcanic, virtuoso and inspired."
Le Monde de la Musique
"...an artist of enormous technical capacity and high artistic vision, which expresses itself through dense introspection and the feathery touch of a keyboard poet."
Kansas City Star
"Kasman, playing with ferocious finger work that begs the question 'is this humanly possible?', is a bundle of energy whose blazing octaves and broken-octave passages overwhelmed the audience - sending them to their feet at the conclusion of the work with laud shouts of approval."
"Kasman's style glimmers with the best of Russian schooling: the unabashed caressing of a line, the tempo liberties that dance around a solid beat, the virile technique and voluptuous sound....[He] communicated a trance-like focus and assertive poetic lyricism that played with - and played off - conductor Carl St. Clair's stricter adherence to classical proportions."
Los Angeles Times
"Russian-born Yakov Kasman... did not simply pound at the keys as so many pianists do with this difficult concerto with many moods. He found the yearning heart of it, which is so much a part of the unabashedly emotional Tchaikovsky...it was in the elegant longing of the first and second movements that his artistry left the audience breathless."
"Kasman's dynamic, powerful pianism transcends his slight stature, and his spectacular technical abilities place him in the great tradition of Josef Lhevinne. The Haydn "Sonata in G Major, " Hob. XVI/40, a seeming bagatelle, became the jewel of the program for me. Kasman played it to perfection. He never strained but effortlessly produced a compelling vignette of the Classical era. His attacks and releases emerged as clear as Glenn Gould's yet the overall structure of the short sonata was never deformed. What's more, he played the work with the rarest of gifts, humor. Haydn definitely implies the humor, beginning with the tempo indication of "allegretto innocente," yet musical humor is a quality all too often overlooked by serious young medal winners."
The San Juan Star
"A real master of performance showmanship."
"Mr. Kasman's clarity made inner details easy to hear. It was coupled with subtlety of expression and a huge dynamic range that moved from barely audible pianissimos to gigantic outbursts of sound. And the best of the best was the "Minuet" from Romeo, because it gave Mr. Kasman a chance to show an aspect of his personality not otherwise apparent. He has an impish sense of humor, and it flashed here as it had during the Cliburn Competition with a wonderful Haydn sonata."
The Dallas Morning News
"Piano playing of unusually dramatic force...Kasman showed great sensitivity to the music. Prokofiev's Sonata No. 8...was a real tour de force, with a driving rhythm that produced a tremendously dramatic impact. The kinetically charged ending, with its forceful dissonant chords, followed by a short, last outburst, was clearly one of the supreme moments of the current Bray series."
"He grabbed attention immediately... and sustained his hold through breathless pace and sheer elan. In a well-considered account of the D-minor Sonata, Kasman demonstrated the effectiveness of some original ideas about the workings of inner voices, as well as the requisite turbulence. In the slow movement - Rachmaninoff's portrait of Faust's Marguerite - Kasman produced a murmurous, Debussyan flow of color and point every bit as amazing as the torrents of fiercely articulated notes in the outer movements."
Los Angeles Times
Schumann Forest Scenes
Prokofiev Romeo & Juliet
Video: Medtner Sonata in G Minor
Yakov Kasman Discography
Concerto Repertoire List