Biography

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„She plays Beethoven’s third Piano Concerto with a rapt intensity. Right at the beginning she achieves a small miracle … a few chords, woven like a curtain about to go up on a quiet paradise in waiting. She performs the piece with a restrained voice, as if telling a story. She is reminiscent of the young Clara Haskil. This is how Anna Gourari won the Clara Schumann Competition.“ Thus Die Zeit reported the final concert of a competition in which Anna Gourari was awarded first prize by a distinguished jury including Martha Argerich, Joachim Kaiser, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nelson Freire and Alexis Weissenberg, whom she had won over by the power of her „almost mystical playing“.

Anna Gourari is long since firmly established as an outstanding pianist and one of the most exceptional personalities of her generation. Her playing has been described as „technically perfect“ and „dazzling“, with an „almost perfect blend of fiery attack and poetic magic“, performing „with pure intellectual freedom“. As the „individualist of the 21st century“ she defies any attempt to categorize her: her personal pianistic language finds its magical expression in the fascinating aura that surrounds her.

Anna Gourari was born in Kazan, Russia. She began piano lessons at the age of five, and from 1979 attended a special school for gifted children in her home town, studying with Kira Shashkina, the teacher of Mikhail Pletnev, and giving her first recital in the same year. Several master classes with Professor Vera Gornostaeva at the Moscow Conservatory stand out among Anna Gourari’s early and some of the most influential musical experiences; then, in 1990, she moved to Germany and continued her piano studies with Professor Ludwig Hoffmann und Gitti Pirner in Munich. She has won several distinctions including the first prizes at the Kabalevsky Competition in Russia (1986) and the first International Chopin Competition in Gottingen (1990), a bursary from the „Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes“, the „Staatliche Förderungspreis“ for young musicians etc.

Since then Anna Gourari has built up an excellent reputation as soloist and chamber musician in the most important centres of music. She regularly performs at international music festivals like the Salzburg Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Festival Pianistico Internazionale Bergamo-Brescia, the Gustav Mahler Festival in Dobbiaco, the St Moritz Festival, the Bad Kissingen Summer Festival, the Lockenhaus Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival, the Festival of Flanders, the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Septembre Musical Montreux, the European Weeks in Passau, the Musica Insieme festival in Bologna a.o., performing with renowned orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Solistes Européens in Luxembourg, the Russian State Academic Symphonic Orchestra, the SWR Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra with conductors like Lorin Maazel, Roger Norrington, Zubin Mehta, Colin Davis, Marco Armiliato and Iván Fischer.

“You do not make music, you are music!” That was the opinion of the legendary film and opera director Werner Herzog, who cast Anna Gourari in the lead part in his cinema film „Invincible“, in which she portrays a pianist. The acclaimed premiere of the German-American co-production took place at the Venice International Film Festival in the autumn of 2001.

In February 2007 Anna Gourari returned to Russia for the first time after many years to film six TV articles on art and culture in Moscow for Deutsche Welle.

Numerous radio and CD recordings document her wide-ranging repertoire, including her special interest in twentieth-century music. The album “Désir”, released on Decca, presents works by Alexander Skryabin and Sofia Gubaidulina. Composers like Rodion Shchedrin and Jörg Widmann have dedicated works to her.

Her highly acclaimed recordings – several featured for months in the German classic charts – have made her the Deutsche Phonoakademie “Up-and-coming Musician of the Year” and she has twice been named ECHO Klassik “Instrumentalist of the Year”. Her most recent albums, released on the Edel Classics label, feature the late piano cycles opp. 116-119 by Johannes Brahms. This album was voted “CD of the Month” by several specialist magazines and also won the “Diapason d’Or” prize, followed by the most successful “Mazurka Diary” – a personal selection of Mazurkas by Frederyk Chopin.

Anna Gourari’s actual album „Canto Oscuro“ with works by Bach/Busoni, Hindemith, Gubaidulina and Bach/Siloti was released on ECM.

„She seems a throwback in many ways, with a very physical, even visceral quality to her music that conjures the sound of such golden-age figures as Horovitz and Cortot, with a naturalness that seems to have always been there. (…) Gourari’s technique and tone are excellent (…) The marvel of this playing is the combination of intuitive pacing, propulsive phrasing, and rhythmic inflection that makes this music spring to life with explosive power. The melding of physicality and thoughtfulness arises again and again in this playing; every note has a purpose. (…) In the person of Anna Gourari, the great Russian school of pianism lives on.“ (FANFARE (USA), Jan./Feb. 2002)