What critics are saying
Berman shows why he's a pianist's pianist. Even though this is an age of spectacular pianists, there are yet relatively few spectacular musicians among them. Pianist Boris Berman is one of them. His performance...was one of those rare evenings that ended much too soon, despite the audience's prolonged invitation.
A performer with a technical polish equal to the best and a musician of a great refinement and taste, Berman exercises the kind of selfless commitment to stylistic integrity that gives composers as diverse as Beethoven, Debussy, and Prokofiev their own aesthetic space. He is not a pianist who relies on histrionics, emotional or physical, but neither is he in the least parsimonious with expression, color, or power. Without fail, he devotes his enviable technique to expressing subtleties.
– Boston Globe
The Opus 118 pieces [by Brahms] were also exemplary: clean, carefully planned and then sensitively played, as if the pianist were in the midst of a meticulously structured reverie. Mr. Berman's playing was technically adept and charged with energy and intelligence.
– The New York Times
[Boris Berman has] the unmistakable stamp of the great Russian tradition of breathless virtuosity and absolute security...he proved himself capable of generating electrical excitement. On any terms, this was major piano playing.
– Los Angeles Times
Par son originalité au sein d’une discographie pléthorique, cet enregistrement s’inscrit pour l’intégrale des Préludes aux côtés de Michelangeli ou de Zimerman (DG), de Paraskivesco (Calliope), de Rouvier (Denon), de Fergus-Thomson (Decca Evidence), de Planès (Harmonic de Records) et de Bavouzet (Chandos); dans les Estampes, il prend place, tout en s’en distinguant, auprès de François (EMI), Arrau ou Kocsis (Philips). À n’en pas douter, l’un des moments forts de cette année Debussy.
– Le Monde de la Musique (France)
Berman seems to have absorbed the best the Russian training has to offer. There is little he doesn't know about sonority, voicing of chords, variety of attack, and his performance of the Scriabin Sonata No. 9 indicates that he may be one of the greatest living masters of the pedal. His tone is unfailingly beautiful.
– Boston Globe
[A Prokofiev recital in the 92nd Street Y in New York] Prokofiev and Berman - a potent combination readily apparent to anyone who has been following Berman's recordings of the complete keyboard works for Chandos... With a cool head, a warm heart, and lapidary precision, Berman defined the essential character of each score, impeccably integrating all the important musical gestures into a satisfying total picture...for a grand tour through the total Prokofiev, I can't imagine a more observant or articulate guide.
– New York Magazine
PIANIST KEYED TO BEETHOVEN [Concerto No. 5 with Boulder Philharmonic]. This was Beethoven the way Schnabel and Serkin used to play him. The real thing.
– The Denver Post
Boris Berman gave a surprisingly expansive performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 [by Bartok with the Houston Symphony, Christoph Eschenbach conducting]...His intelligent, probing interpretation was the highlight of Saturday's concert... Throughout the work, Berman found...unexpected enrichment and that made his interpretation all the more successful, beyond the sheer virtuosity of his playing.
– Houston Chronicle
The Schumann-Schubert double bill proved exceptional in Boris Berman's spacious yet assertive piano playing.
– The Miami Herald
BERMAN'S MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE REIGNS. At the end of Boris Berman's rendition of [Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata] the audience collectively let out the sigh of relief as the manic tension was finally resolved. Moments later, many of the assemblage whistled, stamped their feet or jumped up to salute the man's phenomenal musicality.
Not only was Prokofiev's show-stopper on the bill, but Debussy and Beethoven as well. And, through all of these works, he resolutely demonstrated his complete understanding of the widely diversified stylistic iiosyncrasies.
Berman's virtuosity was not about how stylishly his hands moved across the keyboard, but how intelligently he could articulate the shades of meaning. May he soon return.
– The Age (Melbourne)
PROKOFIEV'S LEADING INTERPRETER. Boris Berman emerges more and more as the dominant Prokofiev interpreter of our time. Berman now seems to be at the height of his faculties. He combines a sharp and witty intellect with a most discriminating emotional approach...he is the master of the long line, the deep breath, conjunction, providing a constant feeling of continuity and forward motion.
– The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
INSPIRED RUSSIAN PIANIST BERMAN TREATS AUDIENCE TO SHOW OF MASTERY. Boris Berman is a pianist at the peak of his career, and his recital...gave a lucky audience to see a powerhouse Russian in full flight... It was a magnificent recital indeed.
– Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)
[Beethoven Concerto No. 4 with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra]
Boris Berman...hatte eine bemerkenswerte Interpretation anzubieten. Er rueckte das Konzert von der Aura weihevoller Dauer-Lyrik ab, die ihm so oft angeheftet wird. Berman legte es darauf an, dass das eroefnende Allegro moderato nicht in allzu unterschiedliche Tempozonen zerfiel, verhinderte, dass der Satz uebermaessig milde daherkam, betonte auch die Heiligkeit, Brillanz, Kraft, die in den Ecksaetzen steckt.
Man erlebte einen Klavierspieler von hohen Graden mit erfreulich unverkrampfter Pianistik. Uebergaenge atmeten, heikle Lagenwechsel waren ganz natuerlich-flexibel gestaltet.
– Kieler Nachrichten (Germany)
Berman joue les Préludes comme des recueils de secrets. Son piano, si opulent jadis, a transmué sa magnificence en mystères, les harmonies complexes se saturent dans ce toucher profond où tout le clavier entre en résonnance, orchestre qui éclate le cadre de l’instrument. Uniques, les deux Livres sont joués dans la même atmosphère, celle d’une recherche éperdue d’un nouveau monde sonore, et lorsque Debussy hausse le ton, Berman lui donne une dimension panique saisissante, que ce soit pour Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest ou Feux d’artifice. Quel piano !
– Artamag (France)
[with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi conducting]
Boris Berman...fit preuve, dans le Concerto n. 1 op. 10 de Prokofiev, d'une virtuosité électrisante, conciliant rubato et toccato dans un impétueux courant, plus slave que nature.
– Libre Belgique (Belgium)
BERMAN RECITAL LIFTS PERFECTION TO NEW HEIGHTS. Seldom do concert-goers hear such flawless musicality and perfect synthesis of technique and emotional intensity: whether Mozart or Brahms, Chopin or Debussy, and of course...Prokofiev, the audience was treated to virtuoso rendition of the highest order.
The pianist's rapt concentration was infectious and the conclusion of each work brought a sense of emergence from another universe.
...a remarkable recital from a remarkable pianist. In a word, entrancing.
– Cape Times (South Africa)
BORIS BERMAN BEGEISTERTE MIT RASANTEM SPIEL.
– Berliner Morgenpost (Germany)
Boris Berman is one of the most serious and profound pianist which the State of Israel "imported" (from Russia) and "exported" (to the USA.) Every visit of him is a feast of pianism in which the instrument serves the music and not the other way around.
– Ma'ariv (Israel)
Berman...is a Beethoven interpreter on the highest level of achievement, in terms of both technical and intellectual control. He has an unerring sense of rhythm, admirably clean articulation and a firm legato, delighting his audience in his understanding of the composer...
– The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Berman's sound imagination and his ability to transfer it to the keyboard is unique, creating an intriguing world of sound- complexities which makes his performance a very special and unusual experience.
– The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
While Berman is impressive on recordings, it is in live performance that his astounding talent truly asserts itself. It was obvious to everyone in the audience that they were experiencing a power and a mastery that very few performers are destined to achieve.
The 12 Preludes of Debussy, Book 1 had moments of such ethereal beauty that listeners stopped breathing, for fear of disturbing the music...
His performance style is the antithesis of lesser artists who try to impress with flamboyance and individuality. There is no ego here, only the eloquence of the music, speaking directly to the heart of the listener.
Bravo, Mr Berman. Come back soon!
– South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
[with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Janos Furst conducting]
Boris Berman was absolutely outstanding in the Fifth Piano Concerto [by Beethoven], the Emperor Concerto. From the first opulent bars he brought the piano to the center of attention, playing with great authority, brilliant technique and presenting the music in almost an improvisational way...One had to sit on the edge of the chair and listen to the thoroughly musical performance of Beethoven's great drama: powerful and full-blooded in the outer movements; dreamy, floating and introverted in the adagio. It was the interpretation of a pianist who did not merely play the piano, but, being at all times attentive to the orchestra, was always completely absorbed by the music. His virtuosity was always the means, never the end in itself.
– Bergens Tidende (Norway)
...an undisputed aristocrat of the piano. Few artists have such a refined sense of sound and only the most dashing fanatic has a virtuoso technique of this order. Gieseking seemed to have been raised from the ashes in his hands...
In short, Berman is a pianist who should be invited back many times now that we've gotten to know him. Playing of this level is far too rarely heard in these latitudes.
– Helsingin sanomat (Finland)