Brno native Igor Ardašev has been a permanent presence on the Czech piano scene for over forty years. The critics particularly admire his meticulousness, his sense of tone quality and his remarkable imagination. “His conscientious approach was evident in every note, in its considered placement in the individual phrases, and in the majestic, almost symphonic construction of every work,” wrote the KlasikaPlus website this year. Ardašev can take pride in the fact that he is probably the only living Czech pianist to have performed four-hand piano with Rudolf Firkušný, and this in a 1994 Supraphon recording of Janáček’s rarity Jealousy. “Mr Firkušný was incredibly gracious, combining professionalism with wonderful human qualities,” he told Harmonie magazine as he recalled this exceptional encounter. He is also one of the few pianists who perform Tchaikovsky’s unjustly neglected Grand Piano Sonata in G major Op. 37, written in 1878 concurrently with the composer’s celebrated Violin Concerto. For his return to the festival, named after the world famous Czech-American pianist, he has also selected excerpts from Sergei Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives and music by the popular Viennese classics.
Ardašev first drew attention to himself as a twelve-year-old in the Concertino Praga radio competition, after which he was highly successful in a series of Czech and foreign competitions. He is a laureate of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Prague Spring, and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and in 1990 he won the International Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens. He comes from a musical family and initially studied with his father; at the age of eleven he appeared with the Brno Philharmonic, where he regularly returns to this day. He attended the Brno Conservatoire and the Janáček Academy of Music, studying with Inessa Janíčková, from whom he learned the principles of the Russian piano school. At the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont he studied with Beethoven specialist Rudolf Serkin, and he also received an invitation to travel to Vienna for consultations with Paul Badura-Skoda. For his artistic achievements he was presented with the City of Brno Award in 2018. His diverse discography, containing more than twenty titles, includes the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Ivan Ženatý, a recording of a Liszt recital, music by Prokofiev, and four-hand versions of works by Czech composers in a duo with Renata Ardaševová.