Johann Sebastian Bach
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
"Among an avalanche of Bach keyboard releases, Sergey Schepkin’s Goldberg Variations was a revelation when I received it for review."
"I find that it grows even more beguiling with repeated hearings, and recommend it confidently in preference to pretty well any other Goldberg recording I've ever heard."
Top Five Picks List
--Bernard Jacobson, Fanfare Magazine
"This is one of the most amazing performances I have ever heard, and I enjoyed everything about it. It's a joy from first note to last. Buy it!"
"A new wondrously fresh rendition...a compelling, imaginative look at the Goldberg, one right up there with the two legendary recordings made by the late Glenn Gould."
--The Providence Journal
"This new Goldberg Variations is a delight...Schepkin's performance is a nice alternative [to the Gould recordings]..."
--American Record Guide
"An extraordinary young pianist...with striking purity of tone, complete technical control and restless intelligence...Mr. Schepkin's lofty perspective held one mesmerized...Clear, penetrating and bristling with life...a major technique...a major Bach pianist."
--The New York Times
The Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin has performed, to great acclaim, in many countries of the world in such venues and on such series as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bank of America Celebrity Series in Boston, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Grand Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo, among many others. He has won particular praise for his performances and recordings of J.S. Bach, and was hailed by The New York Times as "a formidable Bach pianist . . . [who] plays with the passion and drama of a young Glenn Gould." "No one who loves Bach can afford not to listen to these performances," Fanfare magazine wrote about Schepkin's recording of Bach's Partitas. International Piano judged his recording of the First Book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier as one of the best ever made, along with those of Edwin Fischer and Sviatoslav Richter, and Amazon.com proclaimed: "For Bach Partitas, he is it." The Essential Listening Companion catalog considered Schepkin's recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations as one of the top three recordings of that work on the piano along with the one by András Schiff and the 1981 version by Glenn Gould. The American Record Guide deemed Schepkin "the major Bach interpreter of his generation."
Schepkin’s repertoire is immense: it includes most important works of keyboard and chamber literature written over the past four hundred years. The pianist is particularly fond of Romantic and Russian works. The New York Times deemed him "a Romantic firebrand" and "an estimable Brahmsian," while the New York Sun proclaimed his performance of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" at New York's Bargemusic one of the best performances of 2004. The Boston Globe defined Schepkin as "an artist of uncommon, almost singular capability and integrity... [who] synthesizes the most diverse approaches and insights." Schepkin has performed with the St.Petersburg and Oslo Philharmonics, the Norwegian Broadcasting Symphony, and the Boston Pops, as well as the Borromeo, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, New Zealand, and Vilnius string quartets. He has collaborated with and commissioned works from such composers as Alan Fletcher, Michael Gandolfi, and the late Daniel Pinkham. He also earned Sofia Gubaidulina's praise for his interpretation of her "Chaconne."
Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Schepkin studied piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexandra Zhukovsky, Grigory Sokolov, and Alexander Ikharev, graduating summa cum laude in 1985; there, he also was Prof. Ekaterina Murina's assistant in 1987-89, and taught on the piano faculty in 1988-90. After his permanent move to the United States in 1990, he studied with Russell Sherman at New England Conservatory in Boston, where he earned an Artist Diploma in 1992 and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1999. In 1994-98, Schepkin coached with the late legendary French-American pianist Paul Doguereau. Boston was Schepkin's home from 1990 until early 2007; the Boston Phoenix once described him as "one of Boston's great treasures, a supremely intelligent pianist who plays Bach as well as anyone." Since 2003, Schepkin has served as Associate Professor of Piano at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and he moved to that city permanently in the spring of 2007.
Schepkin's awards include the first and Chopin prizes in the 1999 New Orleans International Piano Competition, top prizes in the 1988 Crown Princess Sonja and 1985 All-Russia piano competitions, first prize in the 1978 International Competition for Young Musicians in Prague, the 1995 and 1999 Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Awards, the 1993, 1995, and 1999 St. Botolph Club Foundation Grants, the 1993 Harvard Musical Association Award, and the 1992 Presser Foundation Award. In 2003, he was awarded the Maestro Foundation Genius Grant.
Schepkin's 2007 engagements included performances of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with orchestras in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as Japan and South Korea debuts as soloist and chamber player. Following his Tokyo performance of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, Asahi Shimbun wrote: "Schepkin is a magician who can create transparent zero gravity with music." Schepkin also performed chamber music in Massachusetts and Florida with violinist Lucia Lin and cellists Owen Young and Francisco Vila. In October of 2007, he participated in a collective performance of Bach's Art of the Fugue at the Emmanuel Church in Boston, along with several distinguished Boston pianists and composers. Schepkin will return to Japan in June of 2008, when he will perform recitals in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sapporo. A return appearance at the Northern Flowers festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, is planned for October of 2008.