The beginning of Arcadi Volodos’s career was unconventional. He didn’t take the piano seriously until the age of fifteen; up to that point he had concentrated primarily on singing and conducting in his native St Petersburg; he has never participated in any competitions since, in his view, they destroy the spirit of music. His journey to the international concert stage was impressive nonetheless. He appeared at London’s celebrated Wigmore Hall in 1996, and his debut recital at Carnegie Hall followed two years later. The recording of this latter performance received the prestigious Gramophone Award. Thomas Frost, producer of albums by Vladimir Horowitz for many years, stated at the time: “Volodos has it all: imagination, passion and a phenomenal technique that allows him successfully to execute his musical ideas. His virtuosity knows no bounds: combined with a unique sense of rhythm, colour and poetry, it renders him a teller of intense stories and infinite worlds”.
Volodos focuses his career on solo recitals, taking international venues by storm, while his recording work is undertaken at a more leisurely tempo – he sees each album as the culmination of a particular creative period. Recent recordings include an album of Brahms’s music, which won a Diapason d’Or, an Edison Classical Award and a Gramophone Award; 2019 saw the release of a CD containing Schubert’s solo oeuvre.
In Prague Volodos will present Schubert’s optimistic and, at the same time, ambitious Sonata in D major D. 850, which he wrote back in 1825 when he was staying at the spa town of Bad Gastein. One of the composer’s longest solo works (lasting almost 40 minutes), it reflects the beauty of the Alpine landscape and conjures up the sound of mountain yodelling. The evening will continue with music by Robert Schumann. The pianist will first perform the famous Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), a cycle of thirteen poetic miniatures, and the concert will end with one of the composer’s masterpieces, the monumental Fantasie in C major.