Just 24, Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has won acclaim for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound and poetic sensibility. The New York Times has called him “a pianist who makes every note count”. Mr. Lisiecki’s insightful interpretations, refined technique and natural affinity for art give him a musical voice that belies his age.
In 2017 Mr. Lisiecki received the ECHO Klassik, Germany’s most significant classical music award, as well as the JUNO Award, the most prestigious recognition in the Canadian music industry. Both honored his fourth recording for Deutsche Grammophon, featuring Chopin’s rarely-performed works for piano and orchestra with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Krzysztof Urbański. His latest album for the label, released in February 2019, features both Mendelssohn concertos with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as well as selected solo works.
Jan Lisiecki was born in Canada in 1995. He began piano lessons at the age of five and made his concerto debut four years later, while always rebuffing the label of “child prodigy.” His approach to music is a refreshing combination of dedication, skill, enthusiasm and a realistic perspective on the career of a musician.
Mr. Lisiecki was brought to international attention in 2010 after the Fryderyk Chopin Institute issued a recording of Chopin’s piano concertos, performed live by Mr. Lisiecki at age 13 and 14. BBC Music Magazine wrote of the “mature musicality” of his playing and commended the “sensitively distilled” insights of his Chopin interpretations; the release was awarded the Diapason Découverte. Confirming his status among the most imaginative and poetic pianists of his generation, Deutsche Grammophon signed an exclusive contract with Mr. Lisiecki in 2011, when he was just 15 years old.
Mr. Lisiecki’s first recording for DG, released in 2012, features Mozart’s Piano Concertos KV. 466 and 467. It was followed in 2013 by Chopin’s Etudes Op. 10 and 25, praised by Gramophone magazine for being “played as pure music, given as naturally as breathing”. Mr. Lisiecki’s recording of Schumann’s works for piano and orchestra was released in January 2016 and as ClassicFM wrote, “he may be young but Jan Lisiecki plays Schumann like a legend.”
Mr. Lisiecki says his aim is to always perform in a way that carries forward the beauty and brilliance of the original work. He has demonstrated that he is capable of rendering compositions remarkably close to the way they were intended. “Going into a concert hall should be like going into a sanctuary. You’re there to have a moment of reflection, hopefully leaving feeling different, refreshed and inspired.”
In March 2013 Mr. Lisiecki performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in Bologna with the Orchestra Mozart under Claudio Abbado. He crowned that season with an acclaimed account of Schumann’s Piano Concerto at the BBC Proms. The following year he performed three Mozart concertos in one week with the Philadelphia Orchestra, making his debuts as concerto soloist with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milan, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and with the Deutsches SymphonieOrchester Berlin. The same season, Mr. Lisiecki gave debut recitals at Wigmore Hall, Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and in San Francisco. The pianist’s development has taken place in company with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic and BBC Symphony, at venues such as Suntory Hall, the Kennedy, Lincoln and Barbican Centres and Royal Albert Hall. Mr. Lisiecki has cultivated relationships with prominent conductors including Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniel Harding and the late Claudio Abbado.
Recent highlights include performances across the world, recital tours of Europe and Asia, and subscription debuts with the Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker and Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, among others. Mr. Lisiecki celebrated great success with his highly acclaimed recital program “Night Music” which he will continue to perform in the 2018-19 season.
Also in 2018-19, he will return to Carnegie Hall, performing with The Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Mr. Lisiecki will tour with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra through Europe as well as with the Czech Philharmonic under Semyon Bychkov through Germany. Other collaborations include Filarmonica della Scala, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra with Krzysztof Urbański and concerts in Salzburg with Mozarteum Orchestra. His recent cycle of Beethoven concertos at Konzerthaus Berlin with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields was received enthusiastically by both the audience and media.
Foremost radio and television networks in Europe and North America have extensively broadcast Mr. Lisiecki’s performances; he was also the subject of the CBC National News documentary The Reluctant Prodigy. In 2013 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and was also named as Gramophone magazine’s Young Artist of the Year.
In 2012 Jan Lisiecki was named UNICEF Ambassador to Canada, having been a National Youth Representative since 2008.