Vassily Primakov


Born: 1979
In many ways Vassily Primakov is a reincarnation of the keyboard virtuoso from the early and mid-20th century: he possesses an enormous technique, a highly individual interpretive persona, and a keen sense for drama in the big moments of Romantic and post-Romantic works. To watch him at the piano in performance underscores this atavistic view: Primakov often plays trance-like, seemingly carried away by the music, with all manner of facial expressions and animated movements, while still conveying the sense he is in complete control, despite whatever technical challenges confront him. His growing number of fans will assert that he is fun to watch in his captivating mixture of eccentricity and sensitive virtuosity. Primakov possesses a broad repertory inclusive of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Shostakovich. But he does not skirt the less meaty repertory, as his performances of Mozart concertos will attest; nor does he avoid the unusual: he plays the generally neglected and less pianistic Dvorák Piano Concerto. Primakov has recorded for Bridge Records and the Van Cliburn Foundation.

Vassily Primakov was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1979. At 11 he became a student of Vera Gornostaeva at the Central Special Music School in Moscow. At 17 he enrolled at Juilliard, where he studied until 2005. His teachers there included keyboard icon Jerome Lowenthal. Primakov eventually made the U.S. his adopted homeland.

In 1999 Primakov captured second prize at the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition. In 2001 he was a semi-finalist in the Van Cliburn Competition, and the following year he gave his New York City debut at the 92nd Street Y as part of the Young Concert Artists series. That same year Primakov entered the Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition in Salt Lake City and captured the silver medal. Primakov also won the prestigious William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award while a student at Juilliard.

In 2007 the Classical Recording Foundation gave Primakov the Young Artist of the Year Award. The pianist recorded the two Chopin concertos in May, the following year, with conductor Paul Mann and the Odense Symphony Orchestra. The CD was released on Bridge Records later that year and received broad critical acclaim. As a result of this success, Bridge signed Primakov to a contract involving a series of new recordings. One of them was released in 2009: an acclaimed disc of Schumann's Carnaval and Kreisleriana.