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Concerto Reviews Recital Reviews Chamber Music Reviews

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

with the Miami Symphony under Eduardo Marturet

The virtuoso pianist confirmed his gifts with this stellar appearance. He gave us a precise and solid interpretation of the famous work. Lewin’s execution was truly impressive in its style, accuracy and rhythm, which is key in the playing of this difficult concerto.

- Diario Las Americas (translated from the Spanish)

The second part of the evening was brought on with the well-known Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin, in which the piano protagonist leading the charge was the prestigious Michael Lewin. This work is one of the favorites of the public for its passionate cadenzas and its vibrant passages, introducing jazz into the concert hall. The performace was extremely well received by the audience.

- Miami, El Nuevo Herald (translated from Spanish)


Reinecke Piano Concerto No.1

with The Berkshire Symphony under Ronald Feldman

A Bonfire of Notes for Piano.

If Williams College paid soloists by the note, pianist Michael Lewin would be a rich man today. Lewin, the winner of such important piano competitions as the William Kapell, performed Carl Reinecke’s Concerto No.1 with the Berkshire Symphony at Williams College on Friday night. The notes flew through Chapin Hall like sparks from a bonfire. . . . Like Schumann, Reinecke alternates virtuosic with lyrical passages, and dreamy with ardent states. Chords thunder, runs ripple. . . . Lewin had the power and panache that the work demands.

- Berkshire Eagle, Andrew Pincus


Chopin Concerto No. 2 in F Minor

with the Boston Civic Orchestra under Max Hobart, conductor

Lewin too frequently gets overlooked when lists of great Boston-based pianists get compiled. Pity. The chair of the Boston Conservatory piano faculty ‘suffers’ from an international reputation that exceeds his local one. Hearing his bravura interpretation of Chopin’s second concerto in the gorgeous acoustic of Jordan Hall was a regular concertgoer’s true reward. The F minor concerto forms a test for the compleat musician: bold, finger-challenging runs in the outer two movements; introspective, emotional writing in the middle slow movement. Working listeners into a frenzy by the end of the work, Lewin graciously calmed unsettled nerves with a contemplative Chopin Etude as an encore.

- Boston Herald, Keith Powers


Gottschalk & Gershwin

with the North Carolina Symphony under William Curry

In Gottschalk’s toe-tapping Grande Tarantelle, Lewin quickly established his mastery of crystal-clear articulation and confident precision, reaching appropriate abandon in the energetic climax. In Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody, Lewin supplied peppy percussiveness to Gershwin’s evocation of New York City streets and an appealing pulse to the blues portion. It all had a wonderful swing and syncopation.

- Classical Voice North Carolina, Roy C. Dicks


Liszt Totentantz

with The Sinfonia da Camera under Ian Hobson, conductor

Michael Lewin played this series of variations on the medieval hymn “Dies Irae” (“Day of Wrath”) with electric excitement. This was one of the most highly charged piano performances I have ever seen. It was a tumultuous performance, like a tonic to me.

- The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois


Tchaikovsky No.1

with The Maryland Festival Orchestra under Hugh Wolff

Tchaikovsky’s rhapsodic phrases surged in and out with ease, the melodic and harmonic sweep assured. There was remarkable clarity of detail combined with massive sonorities- no mean trick in the same piece.

- Washington Post

Menotti Concerto

with the Reno Philharmonic under Ron Daniels

Lewin was brilliant. He gave vent to the theatricality of the Menotti with a flair for the dramatic that never got out of hand. Lewin’s performance was high drama mixed with superb taste. One of the orchestra’s most exciting concerto performances ever!

- Reno Gazette-Journal


Menotti Concerto

with The Illinois Philharmonic under Carmon DeLeone, conductor

Piano soloist Michael Lewin played authoritatively and successfully captured the bravura evidently intended by Menotti’s dramatic music. He was commanding...the difficult runs, varied dynamics and frequent exchanges with the orchestra were executed smoothly, while the sheer power of his sound filled the hall.

- The Star, Chicago


Grieg Concerto

with The West Virginia Symphony under Thomas Conlin, conductor

The Grieg was truly the highlight of the evening, as the pianist drew a standing ovation from the audience. Lewin’s radiant tone rang to the rafters…

- Charleston Gazette


Liszt No.1

with The Nevada Philharmonic under Virko Baley, conductor

Lewin, considered to be one of the world’s top interpreters of Liszt, was splendid, treating the audience to a dazzling afternoon not likely to be soon forgotten. He challenged the orchestra to rise up and play beyond their mortal capabilities.

- Las Vegas Sun


Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

with The Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra under Dimitri Toufexis, conductor

Here, the noted American pianist Michael Lewin set the tone, handling this well-known piece with clarity, lucidity and architectural order...It all worked with renewed immediacy, gaining the whole-hearted cheers of the standing audience.

- Elefterotypia, Athens


Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

with The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under William Henry Curry

We had almost forgotten how much of a solo work Rhapsody in Blue really is. It’s literally a series of cadenzas linked by light orchestral scoring. The pianist played them excitingly, reaching the highest pitch in the music’s brilliant climax. . . . Lewin was given a warm ovation after his scintillating performance.

- The Indianapolis Star


Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody

with The Pioneer Valley Symphony under Paul Phillips, conductor

This was the audience’s favorite of the evening. The crowd loved Lewin’s showy Gershwin...He brought a very affirmative attitude with him, and his assurance and spirit lifted the listeners into delight. The orchestra swept along with the sassy flow of the piece and Lewin’s easy lead.

- The Recorder, Greenfield MA


Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody

with The Indianapolis Symphony under William Henry Curry, conductor

Lewin played with spirit, style and accuracy and with insight into Gershwin’s own peculiar nostalgia.

- The Indianapolis News


Gershwin Concerto in F

with The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra under Carmon DeLeone

Substituting pianist Michael Lewin had just a week to prepare a piece he had played only once before. His playing was incredibly accurate and emotionally charged, getting the IPO season off to a rousing start. He delivered the depth without losing the playfulness of this composition’s hot and jazzy, uniquely American rhythms.

- The Star, Park Forest Illinois


Mozart Concerto in D Minor, K.466

with The West Virginia Symphony under Thomas Conlin, conductor

Lewin is a technical marvel. He plays with what looks like a feather-light touch, but the notes explode from the piano. He marshaled all the seething drama of the music without sacrificing the clarity of Mozart’s intricate inner part-writing.

- Charleston Gazette, West Virginia.


Mozart Concerto in D Minor, K.466

with The Orquestra de Camara de Puerto Rico under James Rawie

His almost Beethovenian approach, executed with supreme precision, generated an electricity that had us breathless in our seats.

- El Vocero, San Juan, Puerto Rico


 Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos

with the Flagstaff Symphony, Constantine Orbelian, pianist and Irwin Hoffman, conductor

Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos was a piece of sprightly joy. The two virtuosi demonstrated an almost uncanny ability to achieve ensemble unity on rather short notice. They were particularly good in the finale, playing the famously difficult cadenza with almost note-perfect precision.

- The Sun, Flagstaff, Arizona


Saint-Saens – Carnival of the Animals

with The Boston Pops, Robert Bernhardt, conductor, Art Buchwald, narrator, Paul Szep, cartoonist, and Janice Weber, pianist.

Most of all, there was some beautiful and vivid playing by Weber and Lewin.

- Boston Herald

"One of the finest, and most unusual piano recitals of the year.."

- Maine Classical Beat


"Lewin’s Grand Virtuoso Playing – No Playing Safe"

One seldom has the feeling of listening to a performer from a bygone era, but I daresay many had this feeling at a piano recital by Michael Lewin….his tonal range was immense.. the numerous virtuoso sections were played truly in the grand manner…The “Black Key” Etude fizzed and sparkled delightfully… Gottschalk’s “Manchega” had a virtually unrelenting high energy, and Lewin reveled in its near-constant syncopations and the tattoo of left-hand chords like drums. The Transcendental etude was played with amazing mastery.. The Menter drew a purr of pleasure from the audience. The Tausig threw caution to the wind with electrifying results…In the “Faust Waltz” Lewin plunged into the breach, nothing daunted, and gave us a hair-raising performance. In this age of antiseptic digital perfectionism, there are not many pianists who, playing live, “go for broke” in this hard-core virtuoso repertoire. Michael Lewin is one such. May he prosper.

- Boston Musical Intelligencer


"Michael Lewin displays the keys to piano mastery"

Boston can boast of many fine pianists. Michael Lewin stated his case to be included in their ranks Tuesday evening, with an engaging program that included music by Prokofiev, Beethoven, Scriabin and Ginastera. Lewin plays intensely, in a fury of concentration. His fingering is immaculate and fleet, and he infuses each work with a sense of drama….glittering reading of Ginastera’s Opus 22 Sonata…Lewin doesn’t play often in Boston, so be advised not to miss your next chance to hear him.

- Keith Powers, The Boston Herald


"Lewin offers edgy, explosive performance in piano series"

The International Piano Series at the College of Charleston offered one of the most substantive programs in recent memory Tuesday at Sottile Theatre. American keyboard artist Michael Lewin, chairman of the piano faculty at Boston Conservatory, respected world recitalist and noted recording virtuoso, was preceded by his credentials. Nevertheless, he proved as explosive and edgy as a young challenger in this demanding program, which, remarkably, included nothing in the way of concert “fillers… Lewin dug into an exuberant Russian sampler of Prokofiev and Scriabin…Despite the presence on the program of material possessed of more gravitas and colossal scoring, it must be said that at least one emotive apex of the evening was Lewin’s performance of the Brahms Intermezzo in B-Minor, Op.119 No.1. The tender intensity of its slowly descending arpeggios, and the Scriabin-like tentativeness of its harmonic resolutions made a memorable impression….Ginastera’s piano sonata No.1 offered a stunning conclusion.

- The Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier, Jack Dressler


Charleston, South Carolina

Menotti sometimes writes as though pianists had more than 10 fingers on each hand. Lewin was more than equal to the task and brought chuckles from the audience with the unexpectedly sweet, sentimental ending to a very difficult piece. . . . Lewin played [the Mephisto Waltz] as Liszt must have – explosively and with much color and expression. . . . He not only has extraordinary talent, but charm, poise, wit, and good looks as well.

- The News & Courier. New York

New York City

His technique and ability qualify him eminently for success.

- The New York Times

Among Boston’s resident pianists and musical treasures is the ever-imaginative Michael Lewin...

- American Record Guide


Washington, D.C.

A most sensitive and brooding performer, with a controlled, awesomely intense style. He roared passionately yet precisely through the Chopin. His Prokofiev wove a web of childhood dreams and nightmares.

- The Washington Post


Boston

For me, one disapointment of the Blizzard of 2003 was that it meant the cancellation of a concert, long marked on my calendar, featuring pianist extraordinaire Michael Lewin, chairman of the Boston Conservatory’s piano program. One of the best musical nights out I’ve had this season came in November, hearing Lewin’s performance of Beethoven’s Waldstein, plus sonatas by Alexander Scriabin and Serge Prokofiev. To hear this internationally acclaimed virtuoso play is to realize how much world-class talent calls Boston home.

- Boston Globe, Scot Lehigh

What an intelligent program, and what a satisfying pianist. It will be good to hear him again.

- The Boston Globe

Make room for Michael Lewin. Boston’s music schools all boast great pianists on their faculty…… Boston Conservatory’s Michael Lewin is the equal of any of them. He proved it with a dangerously difficult and extraordinarily musical program Thursday evening of Scarlatti, Bach, Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6, the Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue and two Liszt Waltzes.

- Boston Herald, Keith Powers


Moscow

Michael Lewin played his program with inspiration and genuine artistic enthusiasm which won over the sympathy of the audience. A touchingly pure and sincere approach to music was combined with highest-class skill, a perfect sense of style, and profound understanding.

- Sovyetskaya Rossia

…a musician who possesses a refined poetic nature and a deeply heartfelt voice. Tchaikovsky’s Autumn Song sounded, in his hands, as a musical sonnet, a sad confession of love.

- Komsomolskya Pravda


Pasadena

As a great actor transforms himself into the character created by the author, Michael Lewin’s extraordinary interpretative gifts seem to enable him to merge his musical mind with the composer’s. Lewin’s presence is indeed powerful, however, he is also capable of disapearing in favor of putting the music first…. In Prokofiev’s Sixth Sonata we heard the piano become an instrument of war, recreating sounds of machine gun fire, soldiers marching, sirens, shrieking, moaning and the painfully aching sound of silence…. His masterful balancing of Franck’s fluid forms {Prelude, Chorale & Fugue} coaxed a heavenly organ-like sound out of the same piano that was being used moments before as an instrument of terror…. The audience wouldn’t let him go before hearing Gershwin’s snappy Prelude No. 1. Who could ask for anything more?

- David Spear, Shumei Concert Review


Detroit, Michigan

He was undeniably exciting. He produces a big assertive, confident sound, the kind that wows audiences and made him a lot of friends last night.

- Detroit News


Toulouse, France

Michael Lewin, an interpreter of international quality, charmed a public of connoisseurs, as they applauded his great integrity, virtuosity and sincerity.

- La Depeche


Phoenix, Arizona

Lewin performed [the Schubert Wanderer Fantasy] with classy panache and stylish abandon, winning over the crowd with the maturity and depth of his interpretation. He gave a thunderous reading of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, laying out the work’s contrapuntal structure with clear and assertive phrasing, and, in the latter portions of the fugue, thrilled his listeners with the most eloquent and penetrating crescendo heard in years.

- The Republic


Waterloo, Canada

The clarity and color of this performance were quite revelatory, being brilliant, evocative, and tender by turns. A totally satisfying and exhilarating concert, this one – hats off!

- Waterloo Gazette

At KWCM’s Music Room, Michael Lewin, piano, got right into high gear at the start with the blistering Prokofiev Sonata No.3, and made a brilliant job of it too. . . Lewin’s account of Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata consisted of two ultra-high tension, digitally impressive outer movements and a quite extraordinarily soulful, lovely performance of its beautiful slow movement. An outstanding performance. . . Brahms, admirably shaped and paced, fine sensitivity. Ginastera’s Sonata. . . this too was a stunning performance. There were two delicious encores – the most popular of all Scarlatti Sonatas, L.23, in a performance of magical charm, and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Toccata, a perfect finisher, dazzlingly performed.

- Waterloo Gazette, Jan Narveson


Knoxville, Tennessee

Lewin projected the narrative qualities of the Chopin with ultimate musical freedom, thus revealing his ability as a musical poet. Throughout the Ballade, his prodigious technique made the difficult passages seem easy.

- The Knoxville News-Sentinel


Las Vegas, Nevada

If I cannot say enough good of him, it is because he is a pianist after my heart with technique to burn, power to spare, passionate excitement, subtlety, beautiful tone quality, and the rare gift of being able to project his love and understanding throughout the audience. I have had the good fortune of hearing all the great pianists of our age, but I cannot recall any performance more gripping than this one.

- Las Vegas Review-Journal


Indianapolis

Lewin’s Beethoven had real power and thrust. His playing was energized but not frenetic, and his concept was spacious yet taut.

- The Indianapolis News


San Juan, Puerto Rico

Four encores did not satisfy the standing-room-only public at the Island recital debut of the spectacular pianist Michael Lewin. His Schumann Fantasy unfolded with passion, poetry and architectural inevitability, with a seemingly endless dynamic and tonal range. The virile Mozart had a pointillistic clarity allowing great attention to detail to emerge. The Four Liszt Etudes were tossed off with magnificent bravura, marvelously contrasting power and delicacy.

- El Nuevo Dia

Michael Lewin, in the Ginastera Sonata, gave free rein to his imagination and virtuosity, validating before the Puerto Rican public yet again his international competition victories and great popularity.

- El Nuevo Dia

Lewin-Muresanu Duo: Irina Muresanu, violin & Michael Lewin, piano

At the KWCMS Music Room, Michael Lewin, one of our favorite pianists, performed with Rumanian violinist Irina Muresanu, who turns out to be one of the finest violinists we’ve ever heard. She has a beautiful, sweet sound, yet can raise the roof where needed, and is technically equal to anything. Fine duo playing, with stylistic unanimity, throughout. *Kreutzette*, by Andy Vores, is an oddity, pretty arcanely related to the Kreutzer Sonata, though cute in its zany way. The Beethoven Sonata itself got a breathtaking performance, with the finale at breakneck speed but crystal clear — no mean feat! The great variations movement was tender and lovely. Yehudi Wyner’s two *Dances of Atonement* are intense works and couldn’t be played better; Brahms Sonata No. 3 showed the violinist’s power as well as both players’ affection and insight. A sensational concert!

–Waterloo Gazette, Ontario, Canada

The Amy Beach Piano Quintet provided rich opportunities for a pianist to lean into the thing and breathe fire, which Michael Lewin and his colleagues manifestly did with great conviction and palpable enjoyment. Received with thanks

–The Boston Globe

The performance of the Harbison Piano Quintet by pianist Michael Lewin and his Boston Convervatory Chamber Ensemble colleagues was poised, sonorous, direct, and satisfying.

–The Boston Globe

Before intermission, pianist Michael Lewin, violinist Joseph Genualdi, violist Amadi Hummings and cellist Peter Rejto performed Faure’s First Piano Quartet. The performance was splendid in every way, with the ensemble capturing the work’s unbridled passions with playing of refined expression and taste. The musicians were also attentive to the playful qualitites of the Scherzo, and they summoned a hauntingly beautiful lyricism in the Adagio.

–from ArtsIgnite! Festival, Winston-Salem Journal

Romanul-Lewin collaboration a hit of Berkshire summer scene

From the very first [Brahms D minor Sonata] Romanul and Lewin demonstrated their mastery of technique, nuance, color and ability to communicate both with each other and with their audience. Romanul easily coaxed the sweetest of sounds in the work’s tenderest moments and was always answered in kind by the sensitive Lewin. Both pulled out all the stops in the last movement; emotion and conflict rose to a climax of magnificent sound…Concluding the program was the Grieg C minor Sonata. The drama and excitement of the first movement were met with the range of emotions called for. The beauty of the “Romanza” movement is that the piano is given the opportunity to present the simple, lyrical theme alone. Lewin’s clarity and gentleness here were accomplished on a piano not worthy of this talent. In the concluding Allegro animato they were once again called upon to give their all. The piano has an enormous role here, and Lewin amply met the challenge…..a well-conceived, perfectly-rendered recital.

–The Hellenic Chronicle

Pianist Lewin’s piano work [Schubert Trout Quintet] was a model of musicality and clarity. His every note was clear, yet he blended into the whole with unusual sensitivity.

–The News & Courier, Charleston, SC

Much of the excellence in this performance [Mozart G Minor Piano Quartet] came from Michael Lewin at the piano, whose sense of Mozartian rhythm and willingness to play amongst the strings rather than apart from them gave this version a good deal of its appeal. His clear enthusiasms and musical conceptions were stylistically apt and propelled the quartet through a solidly integrated performance.

–The Evening Post, Charleston, SC

This Shostakovich Piano Trio was a stunning performance by pianist Michael Lewin, violinist Debra Fong and cellist Christoper Costanza, capturing the eerie wistfulness and subsequent grotesqueries of the opening, the driving sardonic spikes of the scherzo with its gleefully sarcastic trio and the poignant tread of the pasacaglia, said to be a death march tribute to slaughtered victims of the war. Finally, there was the macabre dance of the finale, chilling in its skeletal smile, dissolving to arpeggiated ether, a recall of the death march and a little major-key coda of hope.

–The Buffalo News

The great Mendelssohn D Minor Trio was played with appropriate passion, sensitivity and fire. Lynn Chang played with sweetness, Michael Lewin spun out the piano lines with a compelling level of warmth and strong character, and Andrés Diaz’s cello was sometimes reflective, sometimes almost searing in expressiveness. They leapt into the Finale with headlong intensity and a breathtaking speed that brought the audience to its feet at the conclusion.

–The Patriot-Ledger

Michael Lewin

Photography by Liz Linder