Arts Review

Musica Viva presents Kirill Gerstein

Musica Viva presents Kirill Gerstein

Concert Hall, QPAC

19th June, 2024


Dr Gemma Regan


Kirill Gerstein thrilled Brisbane with his incredible dexterity and flair for the fluttering fingers


Pianist Kirill Gerstein thrilled Brisbane with his incredible dexterity as part of his seven-venue Musica Viva Australia national tour. Musica Viva’s mission is to ignite passion in people through performances, with their concerts mostly aimed at school children. Their motto “Make music, make impact” applied to this concert which was a demonstration of delight for one man’s pianistic virtuosity. 


Hailing from the Soviet Union and now living as a US citizen in Berlin, Gerstein proved that he has the fastest fingers in the West with a stunning concert of famously technically difficult pieces. It was his first time in Brisbane, commenting on how he was enjoying the city and the fabulous QPAC. His packed year includes featuring with the London Symphony Orchestra, touring around Europe playing with their finest orchestras and working as the Artist-In-Residence with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.


Opening with Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major he instantly wowed the audience with the notes tumbling and rippling like a cascading silk scarf. His Fantasie in F minor was equally stunning, with a battery of arpeggios flooding the concert hall as each note became indistinguishable from the next, such was the speed!


The centenary of Fauré’s death influenced Gerstein’s choice of his last and most intense Nocturne No. 13  accompanied by a new Après Fauré No. 3: Nocturne by Brad Mehldau which had a haunting jazzy twist.


Poulenc’s Three Intermezzi were a nod to the Parisian culture with a feverish fresh interpretation and hints of Gershwin’s American in Paris, lending a pavement cafe feel to his playing.


Gerstein is the first to perform Liza Lim’s Transcendental Étude in a world premiere commissioned for Musica Viva Australia by the Hildegard Project, promoting female composers. Lim describes it as a “tearing up and knotting of time with repetitions that create glitches in the music as well as moments of trembling or shaking”. 


Her use of silence within the piece allowed the piano to echo powerfully within the hall evoking a resonance of memory. Though played astutely it did not quite hit the promised emotive vein of grief.


Schumann’s Carnival of Vienna was a fantastic finale and another technical masterpiece, having the audience baying for more with two short but brilliant encores Kreisler/Rachmaninov’s Liebesleid and Chopin’s Waltz in A-flat major


Gerstein was fabulous with his flirtatious fingers highlighting his forte for the frenetic, resulting in his fast-paced choice of music which was incredible to witness. Fortunately, the concert was recorded for replay on 4MBS.



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