Philipp Reviewed

"The sudden attacks, the power, the dynamic of the pianist's performance are enthralling. Everything is highly musical! This is as good as it gets! [...] And if one would like to convince skeptics of piano music, there is hardly any better way than Philipp Richardsen and Chopin."

Sebastian Koik, Klassik begeistert (Germany) | 2017.10.09

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Consummate Pianism

In recital for Friends of Music on October 17, 2017, Viennese born Philipp Richardsen, an internationally acclaimed pianist of Norwegian descent, treated his Friends of Music audience at the Durban Jewish Centre to an evening of superb music making. He opened his programme with a profound account of Franz Schubert's cerebral but deeply satisfying late masterpiece, the Piano Sonata in A Major D959 - a work whose huge emotional spectrum rings the changes from mellow ebullience, bucolic fervour and occasionally soaring spirits in its outer movements, to heart-rending despair in its second movement, surely one of Schubert's greatest moments of inspiration. Richardsen's pristine yet powerful delivery of the much-loved work did it full justice, evincing exhilarating evidence of the consummate technical mastery and sensibility of a true virtuoso whose individual stamp breathes fresh life into a concert staple, creating a sense of new discovery for his audience.

Richardsen's prowess was equally in evidence in the second half of his programme. This opened with Chopin's iconic Ballade No I in G minor, one of the Romantic master's best known works whose hallmark characteristics include interludes of sonorous drama alternating with glittering flights of lightning-swift passage work, interwoven with tenderness and the emotive pull that are unique to Chopin's writing. The pianist then treated his audience to a short work by the seldom-heard Norwegian composer, Halfdan Kjerulf (1815–1868), his Idyll from Pieces Opus 4 no 2. Usually the sort of piece offered as an encore at the end of an evening, here, as if in evidence of Dr Richardsen's savvy skill in programming, it was an effective interlude before embarking on the evening's finale, which ironically proved an apposite acknowledgment of the hurricane season we have all experienced recently. Joining a long line of famous pianists, Richardsen exulted in pitching his audience into the high seas of Ferruccio Busoni's mighty piano transcription of JS Bach's Chaconne in D minor from his Violin Partita No 2 BWV 1004. The pianist's powerhouse bravura in dispatching of this formidable warhorse provoked a storm of richly deserved applause.

William Charlton-Perkins, Daily News (South Africa) | 2017.10.25

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"At his concert, the prominent Viennese pianist gave a brilliant performance to the audience in Rovinj. He played bravura passages with ease and perfection, thus demonstrating his inner strength and wide range of emotional experiences. Through his precise playing, he provided magnificent musical moments, which the audience honored with standing ovations."

Aldo Pokrajac, Glas Istre (Croatia) | 2013.07.29

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"A great performance."
André Watts, pianist

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Philipp Richardsen, at UCSB's Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.
The Doctor Brings Down the House

Degree recitals have a rule book - but Philipp Richardsen, with a nod to the audience, threw it out the window for his Doctor of Musical Arts recital Sunday night and took us on a trip instead. He didn't play the mandatory baroque and classical era pieces, and we didn't hear a single sonata. Instead, he gave us a fascinating look at the range of possibilities for the piano, with everything from delicate cascades of arpeggios to wild dancing. So, what might have been a good academic concert became a great lesson in how far a piano can go into the wilds of passion.

Richardsen began with Beethoven's six Bagatelles, Opus 126, his last work of any kind for solo piano and a characteristically introspective late work. Rather than write another fiery showpiece for his own instrument, Beethoven created a thoughtful examination of contrapuntal and harmonic ideas - and Richardsen explained them all to us, clearly and patiently, yet with rich intensity. The real fireworks came next, with two spark-filled Debussy Études, followed by Jenö Takács's spectacular Konzertetüde (Toccata No. 2). This extremely difficult work begins with a repeated pattern of quick notes leading to a huge crash, when Richardsen threw his arms on the keys. As the dissonant echo faded, the work's clever motif began again, but we were ready to follow its strange harmonies wherever it led.

After the intermission, Richardsen broke our hearts. He began with two pieces by Enrique Granados, the Allegro de concierto and Escenas románticas. The first had a rumbling baritone melody accompanied by a choir of chords, but the Escenas stole the show. Granados, one of the great Spanish nationalist composers, wrote this descriptive work in six short movements, each interwoven with rich folk melodies. Richardsen played them all with sensitivity and enthusiasm, and we could hear the genuine depth of feeling beneath the surface of the work's patriotism. He finished with another, very different nationalist piece, Ástor Piazzolla's Tango Rhapsody "Adiós Nonino," the Argentine composer's tribute to his grandfather. After a long, wistful introduction, the tango's characteristic beat came through, but not for long. Piazolla's explorations of this powerful dance form wander far off into difficult rhythms and odd dissonances, but Richardsen made sense of it all and brought us back home. After three curtain calls, he gave us one more - a Cuban flamenco that flashed and whirled. We felt like dancing, and we were all eager to hear more from this gifted pianist.

James Donelan, The Santa Barbara Independent (United States) | 2007.05.03