Catch Tchaikovsky Competition Winner Alexandre Kantorow in His Boston Symphony Debut

Tuesday April 5, 2022

Alexandre Kantorow
Alexandre Kantorow  

"Alexandre Kantorow is not yet a familiar face in UK concert halls, but word had clearly got around that he would be worth hearing," writes London Times critic Rebecca Frank in reviewing a sell-out January recital by the emerging artist. "His win at the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition was of course a clue, but I doubt anyone was quite prepared for the experience of hearing this phenomenal 24-year-old French pianist live."

Boston audiences will get to experience Kantorow's artistry firsthand when he joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra this week when he makes his debut with the orchestra. He will be performing a rarely heard work from Tchaikovsky — his Second Piano Concerto. He will be performing with the orchestra on Thursday, April 7 at 8pm, Friday, April 8 at 1:30pm and Saturday, April 9 at 8pm at Boston's Symphony Hall. For more information, visit the Boston Symphony Orchestra website.

Tchaikovsky has played a big part in Kantorow's career: in 2019  he won the first prize, gold medal, and Grand Prix at the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. With this win, Kantorow became the first French winner in the history of the competition. The competition, held every four years in Moscow, is one classical music's most prestigious.

Yet despite his considerable achievements, he speaks with cautious modesty about his success. "I never really believed that I would make it, and even today I don't feel like I have. I suppose when you don't see yourself play, you can't look at your performance objectively," he told the Monaco Tribune last year.

"I think my greatest fear is not evolving any longer, reaching a stalemate. I constantly have doubts about my playing," he added. "It's only once I am on stage that I'm able to put self-doubt behind me. At that moment, something else takes hold of me."

In addition to Kantorow's debut, April 7 concert marks the first live Symphony Hall program conducted by the orchestra's Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina. She has been the BSO assistant conductor since 2019 and is only the second woman to hold it. Rakitina was named 2019/20 Dudamel Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and worked actively on the orchestra's youth, education and community projects such as Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) with the Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. 

Also on the program is the BSO premiere of Ellen Reid's "When the World as You've Known It Doesn't Exist." Ms. Reid won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019 for her opera "prism." Closing out the program is one of Jean Sibelius's last completed works, his Symphony no. 7, which, the BSO notes, "was an entirely personal reinvention of the genre that had occupied him for almost 40 years and which was closely tied to the landscape and culture of Finland."