Christian Blackshaw


"Blackshaw's performance was a revelation."

The Independent

" rarely hears every note struck cleanly and with fresh wonder."

Financial Times

"Blackshaw's playing simply defines class and classical."

Baltimore Sun

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A deeply passionate and sensitive pianist, Christian Blackshaw is celebrated for the incomparable musicianship of his performances. His playing combines tremendous emotional depth with great understanding.

Following studies with Gordon Green at the Royal College Manchester and Royal Academy London, winning the gold medals at each, he was the first British pianist to study at the Leningrad Conservatoire with Moisei Halfin. He later worked closely with Sir Clifford Curzon in London.

He has performed worldwide and in festivals as recitalist and soloist with many renowned conductors including Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda, Yuri Temirkanov and Sir Neville Marriner. He was Founder Director of the Hellensmusic Festival which was established in 2013.

His hugely acclaimed Wigmore Hall complete Mozart Piano Sonatas series was recorded for Wigmore Hall Live and released in four volumes. Critics have been unanimous in their praise, describing these “landmark” recordings as “captivating”, “magical” and “masterful”. Volume 4 was named as one of the Best Classical Recordings of 2015 in the New York Times in addition to Gramophone Magazine's Top 50 Greatest Mozart Recordings.

Recent notable performances include the Mozart cycle in Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing, a return to the Stars of the White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg and debuts at the Schwetzingen and Edinburgh International Festivals. He has been an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall. During 2019/20 he takes the Mozart cycle to Montreal, returns to the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev and makes debuts with Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi Milano and Claus Peter Flor and the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. He was awarded an MBE in the New Year 2019 Honours List.

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Mozart Sonatas

Wigmore Hall Residency (January 2020)

The finger dexterity [in K279] was dazzling; rhythmically impeccable and of the moment. And varied in dynamics which only a Steinway grand could provide. What would Mozart have done with this instrument? Blackshaw’s answers are life-enhancing.

I had better add that this did not work for everyone in the hall. A friend who had come with me said he had reluctantly decided that he didn’t relate to Mozart. That is because you have never heard it perceived in this way, I replied. The same friend was won over by the architectural drama which Blackshaw took us through in the great A minor sonata. There were moments here where the ghost of Liszt was heard in the unfolding, where the ear is seduced into remembering what has just gone and what is coming. A thrilling play with time in a profound aural challenge.

Repeated notes present a problem to many pianists. Not for this pianist. He uses them as a springboard to bounce forward. When the hammer reaches the string it bounces forward immediately, a staccato which is not a staccato because its thrust is always forward.

Like all Mozart lovers, Blackshaw recognises that the composer’s thinking is always operatic, in whichever structure he is working. There were memorable lyrical moments, especially in the Adagio of K332 and again in the Andante cantabile of the great A minor. Drama and lyricism again alternated in the encore of the D minor Fantasia K397, whose turbulent chromaticism took Mozart and us into the world of romanticism which only properly arrived with later composers. A classical composer speaking romanticism. Chromaticism is when a note is immediately contradicted by its nearest note and Blackshaw invokes the prophetic interchange of tonalities which would have been a surprise even coming from Schubert. … This pianist also manages to deliver on the freshness which comes from an in-and-of-the-moment performance. The profound sadness of the Adagio will live for ever in the mind’s ear for all who were lucky enough to hear it.

Jack Buckley, Seen and Heard International

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27 K. 595 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Saratoga Springs (August 2019)

The Philadelphia Orchestra's season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center came to a radiant and memorable close on Saturday night with an all-Mozart program led by music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

First up was the Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595 with soloist Christian Blackshaw. It often seems as if Mozart concertos just rattle along, pleasant and pristine but not very personal. From his first notes it was clear that Blackshaw wasn't going to let that happen. His playing spilled out like liquid gold.

The first movement was taken at a leisurely Allegro with lots of playful moments and a sweet but mournful secondary theme. Blackshaw obviously wanted to savor every bit of the central movement, as he pulled tempos to something slower than the marked Larghetto and hovered at a mezzo-piano dynamic. The result was mesmerizing and lovely. The finale skipped forward with abundant life.

Joseph Dalton, Times Union

Mozart, Schubert, Franck and Schumann, 70th Birthday Concert

Wigmore Hall (January 2019)

From Blackshaw’s spacious opening onwards, there was a mellowness of approach that spoke of a lifetime of experience.

In the second half, Blackshaw chose Schumann’s Humoreske, a tour de force of constantly shifting moods. He particularly relished its more introverted writing, moulding with great affection the work’s opening melody and the third number, with its soulful dips into the minor. He also enjoyed the contrasts within Schumann’s finale, brilliantly virtuoso one moment, comically pompous the next, bringing off the fervent conclusion with élan.

As an encore we had the last movement of Schumann’s C major Fantasy, Op.17, and here you sensed that Blackshaw relaxed completely, the piece’s poetry fully realised, almost as if the pianist was playing to himself.

Harriet Smith, Financial Times

Blackshaw began in a mood of high-seriousness, with Mozart’s great C minor Fantasia. It’s one of those daring late pieces by Mozart that have a supernatural grandeur, the harmonies wandering into strange regions. The programme note talked of the music’s “emotional violence” and one often hears it played violently, but Blackshaw’s rendition had a seraphic calm. He unfolded it with immense slowness, the pauses between the phrases stretched out to great length.

Any worries that we were in for a beautifully played but emotionally constrained evening were banished by Schubert’s late Three Piano Pieces. Here Blackshaw was alert to every twist and turn of these immensely volatile works. In the second of the set, he conjured a tone of glistening immaculate beauty, which brought out the music’s rhapsodic innocence. The darkness of the central section was very telling, but the most wonderful moment was the transition back to the opening innocence, which crept up on us by slow degrees.

Then we seemed to be wafted into some French neo-Gothic cathedral for César Franck’s Prélude, Choral et Fugue. Blackshaw caught the music’s perfumed rapture but also its solemnity, making sure we could hear the weave of melodic lines but also – as always – generous with his use of the pedal, to create the sense of the melodies moving through a vast acoustic space. Finally came the humorous Humoreske. Blackshaw caught all its moods, but it must be said he was more at home in the inward-looking moments than the eccentric ones. It was no surprise that his encore, the wholly poetic final movement from Schumann’s great Fantaisie, turned out to be the most sublime part of the evening.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

This finely-planned Wigmore Hall recital marked Christian Blackshaw’s Seventieth Birthday, whose deep musicianship and technical command were demonstrated throughout the compelling programme.

It was a mark of Blackshaw’s profound understanding that one could sense Mozart himself at the keyboard, his invention undertaking an individual journey, the result being music the like of which had never before been committed to paper.

Blackshaw’s comprehensive technique, applied with musical distinction, was equally apparent in the three late pieces by Schubert. They are wholly remarkable examples of the composer’s creative genius, and each was given with a combination of authority and power allied to rare sensitivity.

Schumann’s not-often-encountered 'Humoreske' was a clever choice to end with. Blackshaw’s playing was superlatively comprehensive to the extent that one might have been hearing more than one instrument in the Sehr lebhaft and Mit einigen Pomp sections, and in the quieter, contemplative moments Blackshaw revealed more of this composer’s incomparable imagination to profound effect.

This was one of the best piano recitals I have heard in recent years, and, by way of a remarkable encore, the final movement of Schumann’s Fantasy (Opus 17), the total experience will be long-lasting.

Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source *****

“Songs of Life, Loss and Love…” with Alice Coote

Opera du Rhin, Strasbourg (December 2018)

Alice Coote has the unwavering support of a caring pianist, Christian Blackshaw, a musician whose elegance blends perfectly with his recitalist's singing.

Pierre Degott, Olyrix

“Songs of Life, Loss and Love…” with Alice Coote

Wigmore Hall (December 2018)

Here, the grace and sensitivity of Christian Blackshaw’s piano played a vital part: not so much tamping down the singer’s raw emotion but engaging it in an ever-shifting conversation – a to-and-fro beautifully encapsulated by the lovely recitatives of Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos. At once sinister and skittish, Blackshaw’s accompaniment offset the vocal hammer-blows in Brahms’s doomy Biblical songs of mourning and yearning, inspired by Clara Schumann’s death. … With Mahler’s Rückert settings, the partnership with Blackshaw again came to the fore, as the pianist subtly spanned all the colours and textures contained in the composer’s original, orchestral score.

Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk

The fragrance and illusiveness of ‘Ich atmet’ einen linden duft’ was intoxicating, Blackshaw’s manicured accompaniment perfectly at-one with the singer, and there was radiant tone in ‘Liebst du um Schönheit’ and ‘Um Mitternacht’, both delivered with tremendous conviction.

David Truslove, Classical Source

Christian Blackshaw & Soloists of the Berliner Philharmoniker

Turner Sims Southampton / St George’s Bristol / Wigmore Hall (September 2018)

Blackshaw executed the brilliant piano-writing with tremendous verve... Blackshaw is a natural in this repertoire – a consummate Classicist born to play Mozart and Schubert.

David Truslove, Classical Source ​

While the technical execution was consistently superb, it was the emotional expression invested into the playing and the evident joy in the communication between players that pushed this performance towards the extraordinary.

Jason Hewitt, Bristol Live​

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (February 2018)

In the opening half, pianist Christian Blackshaw’s crisp, clean playing of Mozart’s Piano Concerto K503 was a refreshing preface to the thick-set Bruckner.

Ken Walton, The Scotsman​ ​

Christian Blackshaw’s playing was similarly sensitive – gentlemanly, even – flowing in and out of the orchestra in a beautifully tailored manner, and providing a very satisfying overall texture.

Simon Thompson, Bach Track

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491

I Musici de Montréal at Maison Symphonique (September 2017)

The 2017-2018 season had quite an extraordinary start… Christian Blackshaw, on his return to Montréal, had the jewel that he deserved ; the hall which relays  the tiniest of details and a perfect piano, ideally prepared. When a piano (given by sponsor David Sela) portrays minute perfections and delivers for the pianist, whose own attention to detail is but second nature, one is transported to a different world. The first movement’s cadenza is the pianist’s very own, giant like the rest, and the second movement’s weightlessness is exceptional… viewers will see a concert of intense life and radiating hope.

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir

Blackshaw, as a sensitive master, lightly touches his first notes. The caress is charming, given the previous stormy orchestral moments. Throughout the concerto, his playing feels full of subtle tenderness. He introduces small rubato sparsely in his performance ; the trills are impeccable, never exaggerated. He finds on his fingers the same sensitivity to match the conductor’s own movements. When the right hand exercises it’s acrobatics, the left hand becomes singing, and more delicate. In short, Blackshaw’s piano is a small theatre, with each of its protagonists and their complimentary characters.

Sébastien Daigle, Bach Track ****​

Frauenliebe und –leben, Dichterliebe and other works

Alice Coote Schumann Recording (WHLive0079)

This is a pearl — no wonder the applause is rapturous... Blackshaw’s playing is exemplary. The two perform as a team.

David Cairns, The Sunday Times

If Coote is the psyche then Christian Blackshaw is the beating heart of the partnership... Blackshaw, an equal collaborator, colours and intensifies the drama at every turn.

Mark Valencia, Classical Source *****

Schubert and Schumann Recital

Wigmore Hall (December 2016)

Tuesday’s Wigmore Hall recital made the point succinctly through the works of Schubert and Schumann. These composers are something of a speciality for Blackshaw, but he handled them with no shred of complacency. On the contrary, he seemed to delight in re-dissecting their works and combing them for hidden messages.

Hannah Nepil, The Financial Times *****

Mozart Piano Sonatas, Volume 4 (WHLive0078/2)

Wigmore Hall Recording – November 2015

This issue completes Blackshaw’s account of Mozart’s piano sonatas, given at four Wigmore Hall concerts. Donald Tovey describes the sonatas as “written with his left hand” while the composer was occupied with greater things. Yet so searching and satisfying is Blackshaw’s playing, so felicitous his touch, we have no sense of inferior works, least of all the two on the second disc, the sparkling K576 and the irresistible K533, with its richly decorated, Bach-inspired slow movement.

David Cairns, The Sunday Times

The unshowy manner, the gorgeous tone and simple clarity of his playing (lightly pedalled) is completely masterful. This is Mozart to return to time and again.

Jeremy Nicholas, Sinfini Music *****

Ce dernier album comprend lesSonates K. 309, 331, 533/494 et 576. Vous ne serez pas surpris de lire ici que la suprême magie est intacte... Nirvana musical...

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir

Perfection – or something very close to it – is in the service of freedom.

As Blackshaw himself notes, ‘the sonatas resemble mini-operas’. But how to apply that insight with discretion and variety, with humanity without histrionics, is a rare gift. Blackshaw is one of the few who know how to make the music sing and dance without making a song and dance of it. And alongside operatic eloquence, his treatment of the surrounding texture suggests the civilised conversation and wit of Mozart’s wind serenades.

Even the wonderful Uchida sounds occasionally a fraction effortful by comparison...

David Fanning, Gramophone Magazine

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466

Bamberger Symphoniker (October 2015) – IberCamera Series

Christian Blackshaw tocó con gran elegancia, sabiduría, equilibrio, profundo conocimiento de la pieza... Su tardío debut resulta muy prometedor.

Xavier Pujol, El País

Mozart Piano Sonatas, Volume 3

Wigmore Hall Live Recording (May 2015)

Christian Blackshaw’s third volume of Mozart sonatas demonstrates anew the refinement of execution and mastery of style and content that has gained previous instalments of this Wigmore Hall Live cycle high praise… [it confirms him] as one of today’s most completely accomplished keyboard Mozartians. Click here for the full review.

Instrumental Choice - Max Loppert, BBC Music Magazine

…a model of unflashy mastery.

Classical Music Magazine *****

Christian Blackshaw’s splendid, ongoing cycle has arrived at its third volume, a twofer that illustrates many of the fine traits Blackshaw has been demonstrating throughout his series. He was an inspired choice by the Wigmore Hall... If anything, the Adagio [K284] is Blackshaw’s finest central movement yet; it feels like it is just you and Mozart in the room. Phrasing is magnificently shaded, ornaments are perfectly judged.

The late, famous Sonata K545 is delivered with delicious purity and flow. Against its playful and short finale, Blackshaw pits the mighty C minor Fantasie and the K457 Sonata. The Fantasie’s exploratory ruminations achieve a timelessness that is banished by the orchestrally conceived K457. This is magnificent programming, magnificently delivered.

Colin Clarke, International Piano Magazine *****

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, K.459

Singapore Symphony Orchestra (January 2015)

The natural, flowing writing belies the technical demands of the piece, as does Blackshaw’s elegance and lack of fuss at the keyboard.

Mervin Beng, The Straits Times Singapore

Schubert Recital

Wigmore Hall (November 2014)

Few pianists nowadays hypnotise their audiences quite like he does... One senses he has lived and breathed this music for a long time, and in his hands every note lives and breathes too.

Hannah Nepil, The Financial Times *****

Mozart Piano Sonatas, Volume 2

Wigmore Hall Live Recording (November 2014)

Blackshaw’s Mozart is an object lesson in clarity: outer movements are articulated with directness and poise, slow movements (sometimes very slow) seemingly painted and sung rather than merely ‘played’. With raptly silent audience and warm recorded sound, this is shaping up to be the most important cycle of these treasurable works since Schiff and Uchida.

Editor's Choice - Guy Weatherall, Classical Music Magazine *****

Simple they might seem on their surface, but Mozart’s piano sonatas make demands of poise, control and human insight unlike any other body of work. In the second of what will be a four-volume collection, Christian Blackshaw gives beautifully shaped, sparkling, aching accounts of the sonatas K281, K282, K283, K330 and K333, every little turn full of import.

Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times

There is no greater compliment to Blackshaw that this ongoing set surely ranks with the greats and that he appears to be one of the foremost Mozart interpreters of the day.

Colin Clarke, International Piano Magazine *****

Christian Blackshaw doesn’t give us pretty, bone-china Mozart, but a composer who can say serious things with a smile.

His touch in the final Presto of K283 leaves the smile in the air even as the notes vanish, like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, but he allows himself all the time in the world for the opening Adagio of K282, complete with all repeats. In a big movement such as the opening Allegro of K281 he has an aristocratic disdain for the operatically derived conceit of ‘doing voices’: all the rhetoric comes from where the harmony takes him, and in K281’s central Andante amoroso that can be some quietly surprising places. That Mozart was 18 when he wrote this set of three sonatas is not only astonishing but, in Blackshaw’s hands, irrelevant.

On the second disc, K330 and K333 date from eight years later, an aeon in Mozartean terms, and Blackshaw explores the distant regions of both slow movements while never losing the pulse. The gentle wit of K330’s finale is underpinned by a muscular left-hand articulation of endless arpeggio motifs: on paper, ridiculously simple, almost banal. Recorded live, in concert – if there are any edits from this single performance, they are inaudible – the result is full of wit and wonder. The lucky few at Wigmore Hall make plenty of noise at the close of each sonata, and none during. Lucky us who can now join them.

Peter Quantrill, Sinfini Music *****

Blackshaw’s qualities include pristine, immaculate fingerwork, crystalline pianistic sonority and close attention to Mozart’s dynamic markings.

Stephen Pruslin, International Record Review

Like the first volume, this new album surpassed our greatest hopes... The interpretative genius comes into every turn of phrase.

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir

Mozart Recital

Orford Festival (July 2014)

Blackshaw literally “searches out the music” in every nook and cranny, in that trill, in that intersection of voice, of ornamentation and of alleviating of the sound; not unlike an archaeologist seeking to uncover a 'lost city'.

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir

Blackshaw’s style is smooth, weightless; his finger touch crystal clear, his play far from mechanical. Listening with our eyes shut, we were, so to speak, almost coaxing Mozart’s spirit out of his safe hideout.

Christophe Rodriguez, Journal de Montréal

Mozart Piano Sonatas, Volume 1

Wigmore Hall Live Recording (September 2013)

Blackshaw’s mindful yet spontaneous virtuosity, pinpointed sense of character and utterly alive music-making completely disarmed my scepticism. His light touch and unpredictable yet never contrived-sounding accents in the outer movements of the C major Sonata (K279) are akin to a master actor who knows how to throw away a good line. Listen to the Adagio of the F major (K280), and how Blackshaw balances imitative phrases between one hand and the other to ravishing, three-dimensional effect, or how Mozart’s witty, ingenious deployment of keyboard registers in the Presto hit home. And let’s not forget Blackshaw’s gorgeous tone and split-second timing of the embellishments in the Rondeau of the D major Sonata (K311)...Now to answer my earlier question: we need Vol. 2.

Editor's Choice - Jed Distler, Gramophone Magazine

The sound he extracts from the modern piano is subtle and astonishingly varied. In the slow movements, Blackshaw’s velvety tone and fluid control of rubato perfectly encapsulate the intimacy and longing of Mozart’s cantabile melodies. At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, his articulation in the faster outer movements has razor-sharp clarity as well as great energy and exuberance. Although each work shares common stylistic fingerprints, Blackshaw never takes these gestures for granted, making us listen afresh to every nuance and sharing with us his delight at the composer’s unexpected twists and turns of harmony. Just as impressive is the British pianist’s superbly dramatic account of the A minor Sonata (K310). The outer movements are bold and fiery but without any harshness of tone, while Blackshaw is magical in the wistful melancholy of the central Andante cantabile movement.

Instrumental Choice - Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine

Not since Lili Kraus more than half a century ago has a pianist tackled Mozart’s 18 piano sonatas with such insight, panache and dedication. Blackshaw’s recent four-concert cycle at Wigmore Hall was a landmark in what remains an under-appreciated corner of Mozart’s oeuvre, and it is heartening to find these first CDs re-invoking and re-creating the sense of discovery those performances engendered.

This is no dry exploration of classical form, least of all in the first two sonatas. The luminous tone Blackshaw draws from the keys is a wonder in itself, and such is the kaleidoscope of feeling he uncovers in the composer’s decorative forms – joy, sadness, contemplation, exhilaration – that one easily takes the pianist’s technique for granted, so unassumingly has he clothed it in his warm and deft musicianship. Already, in the andante middle movement of the first sonata, we hear Blackshaw adding the subtlest variations of tone and emphasis to the music’s repeated motifs, while the finale has laughter, wit, temperament – and fabulous fluency. To the adagio of the second sonata he brings a proto-Beethovenian blend of poise and depth, to the eighth’s con espressione reflections an unaffected elegance. The ninth and seventeenth sonatas profit no less from Blackshaw’s chaste exploration of the music’s expressive palette. What these performances convey above all is an intelligence that has lived long enough with Mozart’s solo piano music to illuminate it richly for 21st-century ears.

Andrew Clark, Financial Times *****

Wigmore Hall’s label is issuing a four-volume cycle of Mozart’s sonatas as recently performed there by this remarkable artist. The first double album contains five, arranged for musical satisfaction rather than chronology, though beginning with No 1 in C and No 2 in F, whose exquisitely played adagio points to the transcendent beauty of the B flat No 17’s adagio on disc two. One could hardly ask for deeper accounts of the slow movements of these works, or, indeed, a more feeling and tonally immaculate articulation of any part of them. The tragic A minor drive of the Ninth Sonata’s outer movements is captivating.

Paul Driver, Sunday Times

[Christian Blackshaw] is the revelation of the decade.

Disc of the Month - Christophe Huss, Classics Today France

This is Mozart playing like you have never heard it before.

Pianist Magazine

Christian Blackshaw Chamber Music Repertoire


Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, Op. 16
Complete sonatas for violin and piano


Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25
Piano Quintet


Young Apollo


Piano Quintet


Piano Quintet


Piano Quintet


The two piano quartets [ G minor and E flat major]
Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, K. 452


The two piano trios, B flat major and E flat major
Quintet for piano and strings in A major ['Trout']


Piano Quintet


Piano Quintet

Christian Blackshaw Concerto Repertoire


no. 1 in C major, Op. 15
no. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19
no. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
no. 4 in G major, Op. 58
no. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 ['Emperor']


no. 1 in D minor, Op. 1
no. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83


Piano Concerto


no. 2 in F minor, Op. 21


no. 1 in G minor, Op. 25


no. 1 in E flat major
no. 2 in A major


no. 9 in E flat major, K. 271
no. 12 in A major, K. 414
no. 14 in E flat major, K. 449
no. 15 in B flat major, K. 450
no. 17 in G major, K. 453
no. 18 in B flat major, K. 456
no. 19 in F major, K. 459
no. 20 in D minor, K. 466
no. 21 in C major, K. 467
no. 22 in E flat major, K. 482
no. 23 in A major, K. 488
no. 24 in C minor, K. 491
no. 25 in D major, K. 537 ['Coronation']
no. 27 in B flat major, K. 595


A minor, Op. 54


A minor, Op. 16


G major

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