“Maybe they still do exist, the younger music professionals who have gained a following thanks to their musical talent and not because of their extra-musical tabloid antics. In a classical music industry in need of reform, Alexander Schimpf, recent winner of the Vienna Beethoven Piano Competition, could be one of these future heroes…”
(Süddeutsche Zeitung review of a piano recital in the Small Auditorium of the Münchner Gasteig, 2009)
“This young pianist has all the earmarks of becoming a major force in the decades to come.”
(Odessa American, 2013)
“…a specific, individual musical personality, balanced by a deep understanding of compositional structure.”
(FANFARE Magazine, 2015)
Over the past few years Alexander Schimpf has risen to prominence by impressively winning a series of competitions, first winning the 2008 German Music Competition (a distinction no pianist had earned for 14 years), winning First Prize at the 2009 International Beethoven Competition in Vienna and finally emerging as the first German pianist ever to win First Prize at the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition. His final round performance at Severance Hall with the renowned Cleveland Orchestra was given a standing ovation and additionally honored with the Audience Favorite Prize. Since winning these notable awards, Mr. Schimpf’s career has gained momentum with regular appearances at important music centers around the world; he gave debut performances at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in New York, the Marinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, the Great Hall of “Alte Oper” in Frankfurt, the Munich Philharmonic Hall, and Beethoven Hall Bonn.
Born in Germany in 1981, he initially studied piano with Wolfgang Manz in Hannover and subsequently studied with Winfried Apel at the Musikhochschule Dresden as well as with Bernd Glemser in Würzburg. The pianists Cécile Ousset and Janina Fialkowska also played an important role in his artistic development.
He has performed in recital throughout Germany as well as in France (Auditorium du Louvre and Salle Cortot in Paris), Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, England, and Russia, and several times in South America. He made his debut appearance at Carnegie Hall in December 2011 and has been performing in the USA frequently since then; he was invited to play recitals in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C., among others, and received engagements as soloist by numerous American symphony orchestras.
His engagements in Europe in the recent seasons included appearances as a soloist with the St. Petersburg Marinsky Theatre Orchestra, the “Junge Deutsche Philharmonie”, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Prague Philharmonia Orchestra, and the “Beethoven Orchestra” Bonn. During the 2015/16 season he will perform as soloist at the Philharmonie in Cologne and he will give first time performances in Romania, Spain, and Portugal.
Mr. Schimpf has collaborated with noted chamber music partners, including violinist Christian Tetzlaff, cellist Julian Steckel, the “American String Quartet” and the “Armida String Quartet”.
Released in 2009, his first CD was co-produced by Deutschlandradio Kultur and GENUIN; his second CD recording – as an exclusive artist on the OEHMS Classics label – features works by Ravel, Scriabin, and Schubert and was released in January 2013. A third CD was released in January 2015, presenting works by Brahms, Debussy, and Beethoven.
In November 2013 Mr. Schimpf was presented with the “Bavarian State Award for the Advancement of the Arts” in Munich.
The Washington Post
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra gives grand season opener
Posted: September 21, 2014
By Grace Jean
The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra gave a grand 58th season opener on Saturday evening by featuring a guest soloist who inspired an artful and lyrical collaboration at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.
Making his Washington-area debut with Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, Alexander Schimpf displayed a remarkable ability to generate an expressive singing tone out of the Steinway grand. From gentle melodies and gossamer arpeggios to swifter passages and chords that were carefully articulated, the pianist ensured that every note he played was deliberate yet sonorous, and he savored each sound as one relishes a bit of melting chocolate in the mouth.
The orchestra, under Music Director Christopher Zimmerman’s baton, achieved a synchronous and responsive partnership with Schimpf, blending so effortlessly that the concerto took on the operatic quality of an aria. But the Fairfax Symphony also found moments to showcase its own talent in the dreamy instrumental solos that intertwined with Schimpf’s pianism and in the orchestral accompaniment where the group produced timbres that were infused with dynamism and pliant colors.
In an unusual but welcome departure from conventional concerto performances, Schimpf took his curtain call and sat back down at the piano to play an encore — Grieg’s bucolic Nocturne Op. 54, No. 4.
Fairfax Symphony bookended the Grieg with fine performances of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 and Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to “Ruslan and Ludmilla” — the Northern Virginia premiere of FSO trombonist David J. Miller’s new arrangement.
Alexander is an artist of exceptional sensitivity. In his playing, he takes care of every little detail without losing spontaneity. His performances of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto were powerful both emotionally and intellectually.
Rogue Valley Symphony
April 20-22, 2016
“The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra gave a grand 58th season opener on Saturday evening by featuring a guest soloist who inspired an artful and lyrical collaboration (…) Making his Washington-area debut with Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, Alexander Schimpf displayed a remarkable ability to generate an expressive singing tone out of the Steinway grand. From gentle melodies and gossamer arpeggios to swifter passages and chords that were carefully articulated, the pianist ensured that every note he played was deliberate yet sonorous, and he savored each sound as one relishes a bit of melting chocolate in the mouth.
The orchestra, under Music Director Christopher Zimmerman’s baton, achieved a synchronous and responsive partnership with Schimpf, blending so effortlessly that the concerto took on the operatic quality of an aria. (…)”
The Washington Post, September 2014
“The recitals on Wednesday were fascinating. Mr. Schimpf, who won first prize in the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2011, began his program with a vibrant, articulate account of Bach’s Toccata in E minor. (….) In a swirling, seductive account of Debussy’s “L’Isle Joyeuse,” Mr. Schimpf conveyed exactly what kind of joy the visitors to the island of the work’s title were indulging in.
Beethoven’s late Sonata No. 29 in B flat (Op. 106), “Hammerklavier,” is the longest, most audacious and difficult of his sonatas. It is always an event to hear it performed, and there was much to admire in Mr. Schimpf’s account. He brought a light touch, bright sound and bracing energy to the monumental first movement. (…) He was at his best (…) in the searching slow movement, played with magisterial elegance and sensitivity. And he reined in the tempo of the daunting final fugue just enough to let the tangle of crazed counterpoint come through and sound, well, excitingly crazy.”
Anthony Tomassini, The New York Times, July 18th, 2014
“German pianist Alexander Schimpf joined the [Boise Philharmonic] orchestra for a superb performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. (…) Schimpf’s impressive command of technique not only sent his fingers rippling over the keys in flourishes, but added a dynamicism that brought clarity to the quietest moments.
Schimpf played with a level of emotional intelligence and attention that connected with the musicians on stage and the audience. It brought cheers at the end of the first movement – perhaps not proper etiquette, but it was truly and deeply felt.”
Idaho Statesman, May 2014
Of course, after the opening piano proclamation, the pianist must remain mute for three and a half minutes of orchestral exploration of the main themes of the first movement. But when the soloist returned to his music making, he not only continued to display the brilliant playing of the outset, but also revealed a musical soul searching for the beautiful, lyric melodies that are also part of this magnificent work.
Nowhere is lyricism more evident than in the hushed second movement. Here one hears the inner Beethoven, the composer who struggled his entire life to overcome not only his deafness but also his inability to successfully function in a society that was at odds with his personality. Pure romanticism, exquisitely explored by Schimpf’s subtly nuanced music making.
The final movement is a curious romp with a limp, an assertive theme with a rhythmic twist. It was no-holds-barred playing by both soloist and orchestra. Sitkovetsky and Schimpf kept in close contact with each other, and the result was good ensemble from beginning to end (…).”
Classical Voice of North Carolina, May 2014
“What followed surely must rank as one of, if not the most enthralling performances by a CSO guest soloist in recent years. Pianist Alexander Schimpf, whose increasing rise to international acclaim includes winning First Prize at the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition, didn’t merely play with, but rather seemed to breathe in unison with the CSO. In an inspired exposition of Grieg’s magnificent Piano Concerto in a minor, orchestra and piano were equal partners in a compelling conversation (…)
There was neither superfluous bravado nor frivolous ornamentation in Schimpf’s playing, whether in his utterly breathtaking cadenza at the end of the first movement or in the mellifluous, dream-like second movement. Instead, he invested every note, chord or arpeggio with a sincerity of dramatic purpose and authentic poeticism, all the way through the rhapsodic theme developments of the majestic finale. (…)
The sheer magic imparted by this pianist left me wondering if, after intermission, Elgar’s Enigma Variations would feel somewhat anticlimactic. (…)”
Tom Wachunas, Cleveland Classical, November 2013
“…From the opening work, Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, D. 784, Schimpf’s special qualities were clear. He has the patience needed for Schubert, a feeling for the music’s extenuated interior drama, its startling contrasts of tone and dynamics. His instinct for momentary silences was unfailingly apt. Abrupt shifts of color and texture characteristic of the composer’s great sonatas seemed logical and cunningly well-prepared in Schimpf’s hands.
(…) The recital concluded with Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, op. 111, in a breathtaking performance (…). Beethoven’s unusual handling of theme-and-variations form holds the attention in the “Arietta” movement. In this performance, however, it was the shimmering intensity, the enveloping sonority, the evenness of touch (with those persistent trills) that enthralled the audience on the way to the hushed final bars.”
“Jay Harvey Upstage”, Indianapolis, November 2013
“Schimpf’s virtuoso performance [of Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto] with the NBSO lived up to expectations … His approach to the music and the instrument for which it was written was almost priestly in its perfect balance of physical and emotional power, simplicity and spiritual depth. (…) Lightness of touch, wise modesty and meditative power characterized his playing throughout the concerto (…) The intuitive synergy between conductor, soloist and the 38 musicians in the orchestra was almost miraculous.”
South Coast Today, May 2013
“…Alexander Schimpf was scintillating! This young pianist has all the earmarks of becoming a major force in the decades to come.”
Odessa American, April 2013
“For well over half an hour Alexander Schimpf held listeners spellbound with an exhilarating solo dash through Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. Indeed, through his gestures and mixture of self-confident triumph and respectful deference, [Schimpf] personified the very image of Beethoven in a performance of his own music some two hundred years ago. Some of those in the nearly full house at the Dresden Schauspielhaus held their breath upon hearing Alexander Schimpf’s blend of interpretive intelligence, clear, powerful expression and flawless technique.”
Sächsische Zeitung, Dresden/Germany, March 2013
“A nimbus always surrounds Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata, Op. 111, which concluded a captivating evening recital performance. […] On this evening, with his gripping, dynamic and yet thoughtful interpretation of the Adagio, Alexander Schimpf showed that he now numbers among Germany’s outstanding pianists, even though he does not seem interested in spectacular performances which make for good publicity as some of his popular colleagues are. The extreme dynamic range of this monumental work—from quiet adagio passages to sudden fortissimo outbursts—were displayed to great effect in Schimpf’s rendition.”
Erlanger Nachrichten, Erlangen/Germany, March 2013
“The German-born and acutely musical Schimpf played with a controlled passion and intellectual rigor that made the Debussy sparkle. He infused every phrase with feeling and significance (…). His performance was fresh in its modesty; he let the music do the talking. (…) [Beethoven’s] famous “Pathétique” sonata was played in a way that emphasized its Classical characteristics. Clear hints of Beethoven’s Romantic Sturm and Drang rang out, and Schimpf made the most of them, but never at the expense of his meticulous interpretation.”
The Post and Courier, Charleston, November 2012
“…the fast-rising young German pianist Alexander Schimpf, 30, played an impressive program. He opened with Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G in an exquisite performance that found a judicious balance between lyrical freedom and articulate, dancelike tempos and touch. He was equally fine in Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Sonata, Scriabin’s Five Preludes (Op. 74) and a beautifully colored, crisp and lively account of Ravel’s ‘Tombeau de Couperin.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, July 2012
Rondeau for Piano and Orchestra A major, K. 386
Piano Concerto A major, K. 414
Piano Concerto C major, K. 415
Piano Concerto d minor, K. 466
Piano Concerto C major, K. 467
Piano Concerto E flat major, K. 482
Piano Concerto c minor, K. 491
Piano Concerto B flat major, K. 595
L. v. Beethoven:
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, op. 15
Piano Concerto No. 2 B flat major, op. 19
Piano Concerto No. 3 c minor, op. 37
Piano Concerto No. 4 G major, op. 58
Piano Concerto No. 5 E flat major, op. 73
“Triple Concerto” C major, op. 56
“Choral Fantasy” c minor, op. 80
Piano Concerto No. 1 e minor, op. 11
Piano Concerto No. 2 f minor, op. 21
“Krakowiak” op. 14
Piano Concerto a minor, op. 54
Introduction and Allegro G major, op. 92
Piano Concerto No. 1, E flat major
Piano Concerto No. 1 d minor, op. 15
Piano Concerto No. 2 B flat major, op. 83
Peter I. Tchaikowsky:
Piano Concerto No. 1 b flat minor, op. 23
Piano Concerto g minor, op. 33
Piano Concerto a minor, op. 16
Piano Concerto No. 2 c minor, op. 18
Piano Concerto G major
Piano Concerto No. 1 D flat major op. 10