In the Back Room at Emerald City Music’s Arresting ‘In Blue…’ Concert

"New to most of the audience would have been Frederic Rzewski’s Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues for piano solo from 1978-79, an extraordinary evocation of the continuous and invasive sound of the cotton gins rumbling in the lowest registers. while slow blues chords could be heard higher, slow, sinuous, sensuous. Gilles Vonsattel played this virtuosic work, leaving an indelible feel of the factory floor."

Philippa Kiraly, The SunBreak
Nagano, Vonsattel and CSO fete Bernstein in style

"Gilles Vonsattel made a most impressive CSO debut in the symphony’s prominent keyboard part. The Swiss-American pianist kept his role in proper scale, skirting spotlight-grabbing concerto bravura, yet always fully serving the score’s lyrical and dramatic demands as needed. Vonsattel was especially inspired in putting across the jazz-based essence of Bernstein’s piano writing—in the “Masque” the pianist was less concerned with speed than style, tossing off the skittering syncopations with a light, kitten-on-the-keys panache that was delightful and felt just right."

Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
Review: CSO under Kent Nagano delivers a snazzy slice of vintage Bernstein

Thursday’s soloist, Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel, brought urbane charm and winning panache to the extensive solo part. His breezy, light-on-the keys approach..was fluid and rhythmically deft and it worked. So, for that matter, did everything else about the performance.

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"Vonsattel has a buoyant, natural musicality that lends itself nicely to this concerto, which mixes the spontaneous with the precise, relaxed humor with mechanical complexity. Smirnoff and Vonsattel made an effective team."

Jeffrey Johnson, Hartford Courant

"Guest pianist Gilles Vonsattel evinced a deft ability to shift from loud to soft as he repeated and extended the theme of the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 3. This ability came back into play on the final flourishes that diminished into an eloquent recapitulation during his extended solo."

Lawrance Bernabo, Duluth News Tribune
Ebullience from Rockport Duo

"From the opening notes of Beethoven’s Sonata in F Major Op 24 for Piano and Violin (Spring), we realized we were hearing something special. Gorgeous violin playing and remarkably sensitive piano playing blossomed in every phrase and every movement of this sonata and the two sonatas that followed."

Susan Miron, The Boston Musical Intelligencer
Violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Paul Watkins, pianist Gilles Vonsattel and violinist Arnaud Sussmann — members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center — wowed the crowd Sunday night at the Athenaeum in La Jolla.
At the Athenaeum Library, 'a great musical reckoning'

"Vonsattel made an exciting meal out of the blazing piano part, while Sussman, Neubauer and Watkins flirted with occasional tonal roughness as the whole piece hurtled to a near-symphonic amplitude in its closing bars. A great musical reckoning in a small room, and nearly perfect."

Marcus Overton, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Serene Fire in Palo Alto — Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

"Vonsattel’s silken treble passages soon became standard fare and reminded us that Beethoven took pleasure in displaying his own keyboard virtuosity."

Dr. Gary Lemco, Peninsula Reviews
Grammophone Review-Gilles Vonsattel's "Shadowlines"

"Finally, Gilles Vonsattel's 'Shadowlines' aims to reveal the stylistic and spiritual lineage linking Scarlatti, Messiaen, Webern, George Benjamin and Debussy, and thoroughly succeeds by ordering their works in an organic and musically satisfying progression. The dazzling sheen that Vonsattel brings to the rapid descending scales of Scarlatti's A minor Sonata, Kk3, connects with Debussy darting all over the keyboard throughout "Feux d'artifice' from the second book of Préludes, whose harmonic blurrings relate to the stained-glass harmonies that Messiaen parented early on in his own set of Préludes. Likewise, the linear rigour of Webern's Variationstake root and alluringly branch out in Benjamin's 'Canonic Preludes comprising the selection. In short, Vonsattel's suavely executed and gorgeously engineered programme is better experienced than described."


"Visiting pianist Gilles Vonsattel led the concerto with unmistakable precision. A winner of numerous international awards and competitions, Vonsattel handed a gift-wrapped package to the audience directly from the 18th century."

Andrew Meacham, Tampa Bay Times
‘Poetry in Music’ and Gilles Vonsattel

"... a great recital, like the one captured on this mesmerizing disc by the immensely talented pianist Gilles Vonsattel, is more than the sum of its parts. With intelligence and imagination he traces a path from the proud soliloquies of Scarlatti’s sonatas to the doubt-riddled monologues of Webern’s Variations and George Benjamin’s 'Shadowlines,' a sequence of 'canonic preludes' that take the piano’s ability to project split personalities to dramatic heights."

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times
Heinz Holliger, Romancendres, Feuerwerklein, Chaconne, Partita, Daniel Haefliger, Gilles Vonsattel

"Haefliger and Vonsattel give 'Romancendres for Cello and Piano' a passionate and careful reading that suits it well.

"...the monumental abstract-expressive 'Partita for Piano Solo' (1999), a half-hour work of great complexity and fundamental modernity [, is] played inside and outside the piano with excellence by Vonsattel.

"Haefliger and Vonsattel give the music their considerable all. The record has a vivid presence. It is a marvelous collection of Holliger works no modernist would want to miss."

Grego Applegate, Classical-Modern Music Review
Keyboard Revolutions at Music@Menlo

"Pianist Gilles Vonsattel returned with a program peppered with themes of nationalism and revolution.

"Liszt’s Funérailles led the geopolitical revolutionaries, with a haunting depiction of the bloody, failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Beginning with the dissonant bells, Vonsattel vividly illustrated the terror of the uprising with the eruption of violent forces in his left hand with exceptional clarity.

"For musical revolutions, Vonsattel gave listeners Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, Op. 126, and Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight.' The Bagatelles, which opened the concert, were written in Beethoven’s last years, and their innovative quality, full of surprises and humor, was illustrated with full colors."

Ken Iisaka, San Francisco Classical Voice
Gersen's sparkling Copland caps virtuoso Colorado Music Festival week

"...the star of the evening was pianist Gilles Vonsattel. He played Mozart's beloved Piano Concerto No. 21 with an assured sophistication and intellectual artistry, communing effortlessly with the orchestra.

"Mozart left no cadenzas for the concerto, and Vonsattel played two admirable contributions of his own creation. He was given an enthusiastic ovation, and delivered an encore (a rarity at the CMF) of the finale from Beethoven's 'Moonlight.'"

Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera
Pianist Gilles Vonsattel's dark program speaks to 'Master of the Night' exhibit at the Freer

"Vonsattel chose ... a thoughtful and tightly knit program, so rich in internal musical references, shared themes and surprising cross-connections..."

Stephen Brookes, Washington Post
Gilles Vonsattel Performs at Bargemusic

"Tightly conceived and passionately performed, Mr. Vonsattel’s recital was a study in seriousness and intensity. That mood was established from the start of Beethoven’s late Opus 126 Bagatelles, restrained here but with tender bendings of the pulse and, in the final Presto, epic intimations."

Zachary Woolfe, New York Times
Springfield Symphony Orchestra launches 70th season
"Vonsattel was the ideal artist for the Ravel concerto, which presents the piano in many guises – as ranconteur, chanteuse, clown, and long-distance runner. His dexterity was blindingly precise from the lightest touch to the most peremptory outburst.

"In the languid central adagio, he made the piano sing as few players can. Articulation such as this allows the listener to hear the 'music between the notes' and to briefly forget that the piano is essentially a percussion instrument."

Clifton Noble Jr.,
The piano recital gets revolutionized at Rockport
"Vonsattel’s edgy approach ... left an indelible impression of imagination, vitality, and sheer unignorability.... he magically evoked the play of water—burbling, spraying, splashing—in the opening bars of Liszt’s Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa dEste. It was as if the piano were made not of hammers and strings, but of some kind of musical fluid."
David Wright, Boston Classical Review
"Gilles Vonsattel offered ... pieces ranging from Beethoven to Liszt to Heinz Holliger, showcased a young musician at the peak of his performance abilities, with the artistic integrity to challenge both himself and his listeners.... a true act of artistic bravery." Read More...
Keith Powers, Essex Wicked Local
Gilles Vonsattel at Wigmore Hall - Beethoven, Holliger, Ravel
"The unexpected turns, quirky charms, sudden visionary flights and contrasts between simplicity and complexity that thread through the six pieces suited Vonsattel’s sharp-witted style perfectly, and there was much to savour in his rippling attack, bright tone and keen appreciation of the set’s rapid changes of mood."
Peter Reed,
Visiting pianist inspires with eclectic selection
"Vonsattel’s performance style was physical and mesmerizing, but not overwrought. Playing these Bagatelles entirely from memory, with bowed head and closed eyes, he rocked back and forth on the piano bench pounding out Beethoven with obvious passion. Even someone unfamiliar with chamber music would be thoroughly impressed by Vonsattel’s pure skill and energy.

"Gilles Vonsattel selected a provocative and difficult program for Sunday’s concert, showcasing his incredible versatility as a pianist."
Avery Pagan, Williams Record
Concert Review: Quebec Symphony Orchestra
"It must be said that in Gilles Vonsattel, we were treated to an intelligent interpretation, relaxed, never forced, brilliant and generous. In short, great."
Richard Boisvert, Le Soleil (Quebec)
Triumphant self-assertion: Gilles Vonsattel played French music in the courtyard Lörrach
"... on the one hand his stupendous technique, and secondly his profound insights and knowledge to the nature of the compositions."
Burghof Lörrach, Badische Zeitung (Germany)
Bard Music Festival Weekend of Saint-Saëns
“You also heard virtuoso fripperies like ‘Africa’ (1891), an exotic fantasy dispatched with effortless grace by the pianist Gilles Vonsattel.”
Steve Smith, New York Times
Bard SummerScape
“Swiss-born Gilles Vonsattel was dazzling in some insolently difficult Liszt and Gottschalk. If any doubt remained as to Saint-Saëns’s capacity to (sometimes) write great music, surely Vonsattel and Edward Arron put it to flight with 1872’s wonderful first Cello and Piano Sonata.”
David Shengold, Opera News
Summer of Discontent in San Francisco
“On Saturday [there was] a beautiful, meditative performance by Mr. Vonsattel of the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. … Mr. Vonsattel exuded confidence, playing easily and, seemingly, with pleasure. There was nothing labored about his Beethoven [Concerto No. 1], and phrasing and tempo seemed like conscious choices—the performance motivated by a comprehensive understanding of the music, of how the solo part fits in with the ensemble.”
Wells Andres, Seen and Heard International
"This was a sterling performance of the concerto, the fearsome technical challenges met in a clear-eyed way and with the courage and the physical strength needed for the big moments. The double trills in the first movement and the thrilling coda to the last movement were all delivered in a big-boned fashion, the notes secure and with no hint of overpedalling to cover difficulties." Read More...
Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald
The Best Classical Albums of 2011
"In a year rich with rewarding solo-piano discs by Nelson Freire, András Schiff and Paul Jacobs, among others, this suave Gallic program stood out both for liquid beauty (luscious Debussy and Ravel) and for imaginative programming (complementary works by Honegger and Holliger)."
Steve Smith, Time Out New York
"The Esther Honens International Piano Competition is Canada's answer to Fort Worth's Van Cliburn. Its winners have had lower visibility than the Cliburn's, but this recording on the Honens' own label suggests that Vonsattel, the 2009 laureate, is an important addition to the piano scene. With a Columbia undergraduate degree in political science and economics, and a Juilliard master's in piano - his teacher was the romantic Jerome Lowenthal - he seems to balance intellect and feeling perfectly." Read More...
Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
Musical Masterworks Defies the Weather
"Built around perhaps the most virtuosic piano part of any of Haydn's 43 trios, its opening allegro had Vonsattel smiling to himself as he wove its arpeggiated figures. Most of the works' twists and surprises were in his able hands, such as when his left hand sneaked up to start a fugue in what seemed a recapitulation for the first movement."
Milton Moore, New London Day
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