New York Times Lavishes Praise on Recital by Vonsattel

Gilles Vonsattel’s piano performance on April 18 at Bargemusic in New York City drew extraordinary praise from New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe, who called the solo recital a “tightly conceived and passionately performed … study in seriousness and intensity.”

Vonsattel, who is an assistant professor in the department of music and dance, played “an unusually difficult program of works by Beethoven, George Benjamin, Liszt, Messiaen and Heinz Holliger,” according to department chair Jeff Cox.

For one of the most demanding pieces on the program, Heinz Holliger’s “Partita,” Vonsattel received a Faculty Research Grant from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts that enabled him to travel to Switzerland where he worked with Holliger while learning the composition. In addition, funds from the grant paid a portion of the recording costs for“Partita,” which will come out on June 6 on the Genuin label.

In his April 20 review, Woolfe took particular note of Vonsattel’s presentation, writing “His focus in Mr. Holliger’s granitic ‘Partita’ (1999) was total, necessary in a work intricate enough that the echoing overtones that follow each pounding of the keys in the opening ‘Praeludium’ gradually sound out a Bach chorale…”

Woolfe’s appreciation of the recital was captured in the closing paragraph: “While the applause afterward was strong, both Mr. Vonsattel and his listeners seemed exhausted, as though everyone had been through a long journey. That the audience did not demand an encore seemed the greatest compliment it could pay.”

“This is an extraordinary review of an extraordinary recital,” said Cox. “Our students are fortunate to be able to study with such a consummate musician.”