MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? A legend in the world of classical piano, Krystian Zimerman returns to Middlebury College at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Middlebury College Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Zimerman, who last performed at Middlebury in 2004, rarely announces his concert program in advance, and this performance, like others, is highly anticipated and carries an air of mystery. Of Zimerman, Middlebury College Performing Arts Series Director Paul Nelson said, "We remember his previous recital in Middlebury with wonder and virtual reverence and are pleased that one of the few recitals he will play in the world this year will be here."
Zimerman began his concert career in 1975 after winning the Warsaw Chopin Competition as its youngest participant. His years since as a recitalist, concert performer and recording artist have featured tours around the world and performances at many prestigious festivals and with a number of the concert world's foremost orchestras and conductors.
"Krystian Zimerman's approach to playing the piano has greatness written all over it. It has intensity, majesty, intimacy, daring and simplicity, and above all, insight," wrote The Times of London. After a recital featuring Debussy and Chopin, The Boston Phoenix reviewer declared: "If this wasn't perfection, I don't know what else perfection could be."
A trademark of Zimerman's tours is his own concert piano, which he takes to every venue. The confidence afforded by his own thoroughly familiar instrument, combined with his piano-building expertise acquired during his early years and developed in cooperation with the Steinway Company, allows him to reduce or eliminate everything that might distract him from a focus on his music.
Zimerman records exclusively on the Deutsche Grammophon label and has produced 22 records. Many of his recordings were made with the added expertise of several renowned conductors: performances of concertos by Schumann and Grieg with Herbert von Karajan, Chopin with Carlo Maria Giulini, and Liszt with Seiji Ozawa. Zimerman counts a number of conductors among his closest professional friends and mentors. One of his most notable projects was a recording of the complete Beethoven piano concertos with Leonard Bernstein. The legendary maestro died before finishing the award-winning effort.
Zimerman's fame surged in 1994 with his release of Debussy's Preludes, which won a host of awards including the Record of the Year and top instrumental honors at the Gramophone Awards. "These exquisitely finished performances leave no doubt of Zimerman's first-string status in the world of classical piano," wrote the New York Daily News of the recording. In 1995 it continued to receive wide acclaim with the Cannes Classical Award, the Grand Prix De La Nouvelle Académie, and the Diapason D'Or De L'Année among others.
Also in 1995, Zimerman was named Solo Instrumentalist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards.
While the accolades are satisfying, Zimerman says he is most proud of how he has remained a student of the classics throughout his busy career. Each season, he devotes time to learning one or more piano concertos, chamber works, and a number of solo pieces, constantly adding to his repertoire.
Zimerman performs approximately 50 concerts a year with up to 12 dedicated to charity. He also participates in chamber music performances and conducts master classes. He teaches at Basle's Academy of Music in Switzerland, where he lives.
Zimerman's performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series. The Middlebury College Center for the Arts Concert Hall is on South Main Street (Route 30).
Reserved seating tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors. A pre-performance dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts. Reservations are required. For tickets or dinner reservations, call the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433. Online tickets and information are available at www.middlebury.edu/arts