Krystian Zimerman

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About Krystian Zimerman

Combining fierce commitment with impeccable technical finish, Krystian Zimerman brings consistent excellence to everything he plays. Born in Zabrze, Poland, in 1956, he won every available award as the youngest competitor at the 1975 Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. High-profile collaborations on disc followed with conductors including Giulini (Chopin), Bernstein (Brahms, Beethoven), and—much later—Rattle, including a live and socially distanced set of Beethoven concertos in 2020. Zimerman has always restricted the number of concerts he gives, and his determination to avoid a life on tour is matched by his limited recording schedule. Although he plays a vast range of music, he has committed only a fraction of his solo repertoire to disc. Exhilarating accounts of Liszt’s concertos with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa (rec. 1987) were followed by a magisterial solo Liszt album in 1991. When his complete Debussy Préludes garnered lavish praise in 1994, little did we know that there would be no more solo recordings until an album of Schubert’s last two piano sonatas was released in 2017. Concerto recordings continued, including thrilling Rachmaninoff (rec. 1997/2000), once again with Ozawa, and meticulously detailed Chopin (rec. 1999), with Zimerman directing a hand-picked orchestra from the keyboard. Here, and occasionally elsewhere, this obsessive focus on detail can override long-term thinking, but for the most part Zimerman’s concentrated intensity rises way above mere fussiness, while few pianists possess such crystalline clarity of thought and tone.

Zabrze, Poland
December 5, 1956
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