Christopher Taylor

A picture of Christopher Taylor “Those who know the pianist Christopher Taylor tend to speak of him in the hushed, reverent tones typically reserved for natural wonders, if not the otherworldly. Colleagues trip over words like “innocence,” “fervor,” “beauty” and “vision” in an attempt to capture his elusive personality. Critics praise his virtuosity, his cerebral interpretations tempered by an aching tenderness, his unconventional programming and his advocacy of late-20th-century music.” So goes the opening of the recent New York Times preview article about this remarkable young American pianist, an artist pursuing a varied and truly acclaimed career.

Taylor’s expansive concerto repertoire which runs from Bach to Vaughan Williams, includes the Lutoslawski Concerto which he recently performed with the Milwaukee Symphony to very strong press: “precise playing and interpretive conviction….Taylor’s performance was commanding, fiercely punctuated and full of physical power.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Christopher Taylor’s repertoire also includes the towering Liszt transcriptions of Beethoven’s nine symphonies which he offers in concert programming on tour. “What is remarkable is not that it makes the piano sound like an orchestra but that the reduction really sounds like piano music — on a grand scale, but pianistic nevertheless” writes the Boston Musical Intelligencer, which continues: “The way this version of a symphony that everyone knows and loves could best succeed is with dancelike lightness and momentum, and Taylor managed that feature completely, with unfailing and often effortless energy.”

Following his thoughtful programming compass, Christopher Taylor is involved in several other fascinating projects – from the Bach Goldberg Variations performed on a unique dual-manual Steinway, to the complete Messiaen “Vingt Regards sur L’Enfant Jesus” from memory, currently in DVD release. Engagements in recent seasons include performances for such distinguished venues and series as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Chamber Music Society, Spivey Hall, the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois, the Ravinia Festival, Caramoor Festival, Duke University, Columbia University, La Jolla Music Society, Stanford University, Music Academy of the West, Voices of Change in Dallas, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Davis and the University of California at Berkeley. In addition, he is frequently tapped for concerto repertoire from Liszt and Beethoven to Gershwin and Ullman
At home in the U.S. he has appeared with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Symphonies of Colorado, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, the Boston Pops. Mr. Taylor has toured North America with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic. And with Orpheus, he has toured the premiere performances of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Sea Orpheus”, including an appearance at Carnegie Hall about which the New York Times wrote “Christopher Taylor gave a brilliant, energetic account”.

During the recent “Hope From Despair” project Taylor gave two performances of the Viktor Ullman Piano Concerto and the Concertino by Wladyslaw Szpilman with the Colorado Symphony. About the Ullman, The Denver Post wrote: “Taylor, a versatile, ready-for-anything soloist, delivered a brilliant, intense performance, adroitly handling the pounding, sometimes repetitive passagework of the opening movement. He then showed a totally different side, bringing a suave elegance to Wladyslaw Szpilman’s surprisingly upbeat Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, a kind of Polish “Rhapsody in Blue.”

While Taylor has a well-earned reputation for his exquisite performances of Bach and his exciting performances of romantic piano concertos, he has captured the attention of the music world with his recent tour de force programming of Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. “Before a rapt audience at the Miller Theater on Saturday night, Mr. Taylor, a lanky 31-year-old pianist who graduated summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard, gave an astonishing performance of Messiaen’s complete “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus,” more than two hours of some of the most complex and difficult music ever written for the piano. And he played the 176-page score from memory.”

Christopher Taylor was honored with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, he is the winner of the Kapell Competition, the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition. He is Paul Collins Professor of Piano Performance at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His many recordings include those on the JonathanDigital label.

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