Maxim Anikushin

 

 

 

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Anikushin Wins the Ovation for Shostakovich


(with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists) ... "Everything changed after the intermission,with a stunning concerto by Shostakovich (No. 1), with Maxim Anikushin at the piano. With humor and parody, winks and musical quotations, this incredible patchwork gives the piano pride of place: the soloist gave a unity to the whole with esprit, virtuosity and sensibility as well (lento that was almost like Ravel!). All in the most Shostakovichian possible tone ..."

— Dominque Saur, reviewing the Loire Festival Week of Music at Tours France


Maxim Anikushin, piano - Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall: February, 2006

 

When I had the pleasure of reviewing Maxim Anikushin's impressive Debut recital in Volume 6 Number 2 of this journal, the Russian pianist (he was born in Moscow on May 6, 1976) had just celebrated his 23rd birthday, I wrote that Mr. Anikushin "is undoubtedly destined to enter the annal of this generation's important young pianists." On February 19th, Anikushin returned to Weill Hall for his fourth appearance there under the auspices of Artists International's Young Artists Piano Award as an Alumnus-Winner in a deeply thoughtful, eloquent program of Bach's Sixth Partita, BWV 830, Beethoven's last Sonata, Op. 111, Bela Bartok's Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Tunes, Op. 20 and Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody. At the time of his first New York concert, Anikushin was a pupil of Mme. Oxana Yablonskaya at the Juilliard School. Now an authentic Old Master (he will turn thirty in May) he is still studying, working for a Doctoral Degree with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music. To be sure, Anikushin's artistry has changed with time but the truth of my prophetic words are still very true to the mark.

My impression is that Mr. Anikushin has become more introspective. He was always a formidable technician with a sonorous down-to-the-bottom-of-the-keys tone and a serious no-nonsense interpretative approach. He still has all of these admirable virtues but the erstwhile fire-eating bravura has mellowed and become gentler without losing strength and architectonic clarity. In the opening Toccata of the Bach Partita he immediately established a luscious spacious lyricism. He patiently let the music unfold with simplicity and he gradually coaxed from the music's wealth of contrapuntal detail a big, dramatic apex. The dance movements that subsequently followed suit were discriminatingly characterized. Every one of them was an absolute joy: crysal clear and wonderfully fluent. I especially warmed to his treament of the Corrente which was fleetness personified with its many notes rippling off his agile fingers. And so it was the courtly Air, the pensive, soulful Sarabande, the Gavotte (which sounds for all the like Gigue, and the culminating Giga---also an atypical affair in its rhythmic formation---was steadily and powerully clarified. Mr. Anikushin had me thiinking of Glenn Gould's early recording of the Sixth Partita, which is a high compliment indeed (even if Mr. Gould is reputed to have perversely hated that, one of his best efforts!).

I recall Mr. Anikushin playing the specified glissando octaves near the end of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata as two-handed scales and this time he also divided the opening flourishes of Op. 111 between his hands as many pianists (especially Russian pianists) are wont to do. The introduction was played very steadily and its daemonic foreboding was rather underplayed. And in the first movement proper detail was exceptionally clear and many of gnarled passages were rhythmically steady and even smoothed out. In truth I found Mr. Anikushin to be even a trifle bland and mild-mannered (c.f. the desperate snatching and longing so familiar so many from Schnabel and his ilk were missing) but this patient, laid-back treatment of the first movement had its own merits. And I must say that the second movement Arietta with its sublime variations were exquisite and profound, cumulative; and with its liquid trills (which Claudio Arrau poetically describes as "a trembling of the soul") had an aerial, transfigured beauty of sound. Thus understatement made sublime, deeply touching effect on this often overly critical listener. A truly transfigured reading of one of the wonders of Western Civilization!

A simiilar order of muted simplicity pervaded the Bartok Improvisations, one of the Hungarian master's gentlest, most intimate creations. The dissonances were treated as an integral garnish: giving the folksongs pungency by dousing them in percussive, Allegro Barbaro chili sauce. This was truly idiomatic Bartok playing, reminiscent of the great composer himself. And what a pleasure to find Liszt's splashy Second Hungarian Rhapsoldy played with uncharacteristic dignity. The massive introductory pages were shapely, not pulled about like crazy putty; and the final pages scintillated in an airborne, deliciously fleet (almost wickedly debonair) burst of froth. There were two encores: Chopin's Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No. 4, and Grigory Ginsburg's witty paraphrase of a famous aria from Rossini's Barber of Seville.

 

 

— Harris Goldsmith, New York Concert Review

 

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Mr. Anikushin is soloist with Dmitri Yablonsky conducting the Russian State Orchestra. This distinctive recording of 20th century Russiancompositions includes Shostakovich, Piano Concerto No. 1, Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3 and Stravinsky, three movements from Petrushka.

Saison Russe

Released: May 17, 2001
Catalog Num: 2023

 

Mozart and Schubert a Cure for Winter Woes

Patrons came to the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra last Saturday night for its winter concert, perhaps drawn by the announced program of Mozart and Schubert, only to find themselves overwhelmed by the ferocious playing of the young Russian pianist Maxim Anikushin in a dazzling performance of Concerto No. 1 by his fellow countryman Dimitri Shostakovich.

Having attended almost all of the Greater Newburgh Symphony's concerts over the past six, years, I can't recall the orchestra playing with such intensity and joy as it did last Saturday night, perhaps spurred on by Anikushin's dramatic playing of a piece originally performed by Shostakovich in 1933.

It is rare for the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra to perform music from the 20th century, but this piece was so joyous and circus-like that conductor Woomyung Choe must have felt that his audience would become caught up with the whirling musical fireworks that Shostakovich provided. The setting of the concerto is unusual, paring piano with a string orchestra and just a solo trumpet. From the opening of a harsh chord accented by the trumpet and piano, the piece gained momentum with vibrant, strident attacks on the keyboard. Throughout the piece the young Russian had command of the instrument blazing away with percussive, rythmic melodies and playing with Slavic intensity. By the time the fourth movement came along, the orchestra was playing with incredible zeal, the resin flying off the bows, the trumpet accompanied by bows bouncing off the strings, and Anikushin playing like a man possessed. The crowd roared its approval and was on its feet at the conclusion. They were rewarded with a rare encore by Anikushin: a piece by Lizst which he performed with a lightness that was simply amazing, with dazzling technique and delicacy. It took the breath away and made you wonder: "Who is this miracle?"

 

— J. Warren Cahill, Mid Hudson Times

Maxim Anikushin, piano - Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall: May, 1999

Maxim Anikushin, a young Russian pianist who had just celebrated his twenty-third birthday three days earlier (he was born in Moscow on May 6, 1976) made his New York debut at Weill Hall on May 9th under the auspices of Artists International's 1988 Young Artists Award. Mr. Anikushin comes from a family of artists: His great uncle was the Russian sculptor Michail Anikushin who is known for his statue of Pushkin in Pushkin Square. His grandmother Sonya Yankovskaya and her late brother Lazar Khasin are painters.

Mr. Anikushin, true to the honored tradition, began piano lessons at age 5 and at 12 went on to study at the Moscow Conservatory, where he received a fulll scholarship during his final year. In Russia, he gave several performances as a recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra. In 1997 he performed the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto with the Moscow Symphony. In 1991, Mr. Anikushin immigrated to the United Atates, and was accepted under full scholarship at the San Francisco Conservatory. One year later, he entered the Julliard School of Music, completing his Bachelor's and Master's degrees as a pupil of Oxana Yablonskaya.

It took no more than a few authoritative phrases of Beethoven's Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 to establish a feeling of contentment and well being that this debut was truly going to be something special---and so it continued for the entire concert. As we have come to expect from superior Russion-trained pianists, Mr Anikushin is a powerhouse viruoso technician with complete digital control and an invigorating down to-the-bottom-of-the-keys-sonority (which, however, doesn't preclude gossamer delicacy); what cannot necessarily be expected from the Russian school---and I am delighted to report---Mr. Anikushin is a thoroughly idiomatic Beethoven interpreter: He commanded a sure sense of architecture and tempo-relationship, and his reading of the E major Sonata seemed "right" at every turn: the opening vivace ma non troppo, not too slow, not too hurried, had direction and repose; the central Prestissimo had requisite strength and proto-Schumannesque-ardor; the culminating variations (Andante-molto cantabile ed espressivo) had gravitas and forward direction. The final variation with its tremendous build-up and then dispersal of tension created a requisite arch: This was, by any reckoning, a splendid interpretation by a mature artist.

He played both books of the Brahms Variations on a Theme by Paganini fearlessly and well; gobbling up the treacherous pianistic hurdles but also fully aware that these purported etudes are also replete with music and poetry. Mr. Anikushin's textures were transparent and brilliant; his tempost almost insolently precipitate (though never rushed). (Followers of the text will be interested in knowing that the pianist played Paganini's Theme before each of the two books.) This was invigorating but responsible pianistic big game hunting!

The pianist, for his final offering, turned to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (which, I suppose, is only proper in keeping with Mr. Anikushin's aforementioned artistic heritage). A few weeks ago (you can read about it in this same issue) another distinctive pianist, Emma Tehmizian played the Mussorgsky materpiece in the same room. Mr. Anikushin's approach was utterly different but every bit as convincing: Whereas Ms. Tehmizian sacrificed a few details and dropped a few notes here and there in the interest of impetuous subjectivity, Mr. Anikushin was more orthodox. He delivered a galvanic, large-spanning interpretation that in a way brought to mind the late Rudolf Firkusny's spendidly orthodox treatment, albeit with an extra dollop Richterlike excitement (it was that good!). All of his characterizations were on the mark, and when the Great Gate's bronzen weight and breath thundered its mighty last tremolando, an acclamation from the audience was understandably forthcoming.

There was one encore, a brilliantly played account of the famous Scriabin Etude, Op. 11. 8. Maxim Anikushin is undoubtedly destined to enter the annals of his generation's important young pianists: We will doubtless be hearing much more from him.

— Harris Goldsmith, New York Concert Review

 

 

 


 

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