Christian Blackshaw is represented by Rayfield Allied worldwide.

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Christian Blackshaw

Piano

  • Blackshaw's playing simply defines class and classical.
    Baltimore Sun
  • ...one rarely hears every note struck cleanly and with fresh wonder.
    Financial Times
  • Blackshaw's performance was a revelation.
    The Independent
  • A deeply passionate and sensitive performer, Christian Blackshaw is celebrated for the incomparable musicianship of his performances. His playing combines tremendous emotional depth with great understanding and, in the words of one London critic, “sheer musicality and humanity”.

    Following studies with Gordon Green at the Royal College Manchester and Royal Academy, London and 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 is also Artistic Director of the Hellens Music Festival which was established in Spring 2013.

    Recent notable debuts include Berliner Philharmoniker, Tokyo and the Aldeburgh Festival. Valery Gergiev invited him back to the White Nights Festival to perform the Mozart sonata cycle and he returned to the South Bank International Piano Series. His hugely acclaimed Wigmore Hall Mozart sonata series concluded in early 2013 and subsequently Wigmore Hall Live have issued Volumes One and Two of this four double CD cycle. Critics have been unanimous in their praise, describing the “landmark” recording as “captivating” and “magical”.

    • 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
      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 Concerto Repertoire

    BEETHOVEN
    • 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']
    BRAHMS
    • no. 1 in D minor, Op. 1
    • no. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
    BRITTEN
    • Piano Concerto
    CHOPIN
    • no. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
    MENDELSSOHN
    • no. 1 in G minor, Op. 25
    LISZT
    • no. 1 in E flat major
    • no. 2 in A major
    MOZART
    • 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
    SCHUMANN
    • A minor, Op. 54
    GRIEG
    • A minor, Op. 16
    RAVEL
    • G major

    Christian Blackshaw Chamber Music Repertoire

    BEETHOVEN
    • Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, Op. 16
    • Complete sonatas for violin and piano
    BRAHMS
    • Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25
    • Piano Quintet
    BRITTEN
    • Young Apollo
    DVORAK
    • Piano Quintet
    ELGAR
    • Piano Quintet
    FRANCK
    • Piano Quintet
    MOZART
    • The two piano quartets [ G minor and E flat major]
    • Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, K. 452
    SCHUBERT
    • The two piano trios, B flat major and E flat major
    • Quintet for piano and strings in A major ['Trout']
    SCHUMANN
    • Piano Quintet
    SHOSTAKOVITCH
    • Piano Quintet
  • Photos