Press

The Ballad No. 2 by Liszt hurled us without mercy into the screaming sea of chromatic figures created by the left hand. This piano fumed and roared and thundered and howled, to the point of sound climax. The painful nobility of Chopin became a riveting demonstration. What generosity, what total commitment (as can also be seen in Trifonov's playing), where others economize their forces and remain strictly within the limits defined by the best of taste! Sergei Babayan lays waste to all accepted habits. A larger-than-life piano.

DIAPASON, 30 November 2017

Babayan created a glorious sound experience.

Nordwest-Zeitung, 21 November 2017

THE SHOCK OF SILENCE. - Babayan's transcriptions emphasize the bloody violence dominating Shakespeare's original drama. The harshness of dissonances - which is so characteristic for Prokofiev's harmonic work, but is softened by the instrumental bandwidth of the symphonic original - gets concentrated in the piano chord and, thus, laid bare in the most merciless fashion. Bruitist, noisy, tumultuous, percussive is this music. The silence between the movements comes almost as a shock. As a result, calmer pieces such as the tender, wittily played 'Gavotte' appear even lighter and more delicate. ... At the end, Prokofiev power, now in the form of Babayan's transcriptions of his film music, forces the audience to jump to standing ovations. But before this, the two of them play Mozart's Sonata K.448 - with an intimate devotion that is deeply moving. Time seems to stand still. Sparkling runs, trills, melodies softly merge. One barely distinguishes who plays what. Such miracles of musical togetherness and virtuoso synchronality are again shown in the encore from Rachmaninov's Suite No. 1 Op. 15; burbling arabesque harmonies, quicksilver runs, all light and fluffy like cotton candy, flowing and sparkling like champagne.


Stuttgarter Zeitung, 8 November 2017

Unforgettable virtuosity at the Reitstadel. World class artists Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan bewitch Neumarkt audience with supreme quality of sound. – (...) The sheer joy of their joint music-making was instantly noticeable.

Mittelbayerische Zeitung, 5 November 2017

The truest miracles of the evening were revealed in the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 488. This piece was shared with a range of the human experience unheard of in most performances, and the interplay of the parts was delivered with seamless transparency, and unfolded with improvised joy. Within the course of specific turns of phrase—ordinary and derivative in lesser hands—the rhetoric was confiding, as though to impart the joys and sorrows of a lifetime. The tempi in the outer movements were breathtaking. The performers were on a matched wavelength to an extent that left one to consider whether musical soulmates are determined by larger forces in the universe.

Zsolt Bognár, Slipped Disc, 1 November 2017

Martha Argerich, Sergei Babayan furnish Cleveland with musical evening for the ages. - As if we didn't already have enough reasons to be grateful to pianist Sergei Babayan. Now, in addition to all his other work, we also have the artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music to thank for bringing Martha Argerich to Cleveland. For organizing and executing a musical evening for the ages, a concert none who attended will soon forget. (...) Never has "Romeo and Juliet" sounded quite as electric as it did Monday. Babayan's transcriptions and his performance with Argerich contained all the brute intensity and dashing lyricism of the original but little of its tragic sentiment. Time and again, the two pianists easily conjured a full orchestra with ferocious, pounding chords and rich textures, only to turn around and spin out some charming dance or radiant, achingly beautiful melody.

cleveland.com, 31 October 2017

A four-hand Chopin rondo that Trifonov shares with his teacher, the inspirational Sergei Babayan. Nothing on this album is predictable, nothing stale. This is what piano recitals must have sounded like before artists were obliged to listen to agents and producers.

Norman Lebrecht, ludwig van Toronto, 13 October 2017

Downright stunning is the Rondo Op. 73 for two pianos: Trifonov is playing this together with his former teacher, Armenian Sergei Babayan, in such a delicate, witty way, without the slightest element of vanity, that the listener senses more musicality in this harmless, yet staggeringly virtuoso amusement for the 19th century parlors than in many a grandiose magnum opus.

DIE ZEIT, 4 October 2017

Her congenial partner in the four-hand playing of two grand pianos was the celebrated Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan. Argerich and Babayan, as of one piece, celebrated the art of singing on the piano in the softest possible way. Colors of sound which have never been heard like this before.

Die Rheinpfalz, 2 October 2017

Babayan transcribed all this, creating a fascinating room for interpretation for himself and his partner Argerich in the process. Both artists are also perfectly at home in those musical areas where riveting, rhythmic forces give way to far-reaching lyrical episodes. The two are able to filter the smallest moments of tension and contrast from those dispersals of sound and structure, which sound as exciting as their Rachmaninov encores.

Mannheimer Morgen, 2 October 2017

American-Armenian pianist Sergei Babayan created a dozen of orchestral pieces from Prokofev's ballet suite «Romeo and Juliet» for two pianos. What he created is a fluorescent drama full of radical radiance that leaves ample room for the creativity of both pianists. Argerich and Babayan, technically equals with a great sense for musical effect, present the twelve movements. The joy of inspiring each other in dialogue, passing each other the rapid tempi, merge in colorful rubati. It takes two outstanding artists to produce this – one, together: twenty fingers that make a thundering Steinway whisper, purring pianos which sound like a ray of light reflecting in manifold dewdrops. Sparks were emitting, the luxuriousness of sounds has the audience jump to standing ovations.

Der Bund, 30 September 2017

The surprises come without warning. Babayan's gestures are a bit more expressive but still miles away from the usual messing around the piano of certain up and coming stars. The two piano parts which he distilled from Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet ballet music are at least at equal level, often it is him who indicates the tempo, many pianistic impulses come from him, and pianistically he is not second in rank to her. His playing is somewhat more beefy than hers, but otherwise the two familiar partners all of a piece, from the mechanically hammering dissonant sound, so cherished by Prokofiev, to the fragile chords in pianissimo pads, where the music is all about farewell and death.

Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, 27 September 2017

SERGEI BABAYAN: A GENIUS! The advantage of the written press is that one can be speechless and say all the good that one thinks of an artist. Sergei Babayan, whom we know too little, is a genius. Period. This evidence appeared to us on Friday evening in full light: Sergei Babayan is a kind of Grigory Sokolov for initiates. Like Sokolov, the cult pianist of the moment, Babayan has the ability to transform the concert into a ceremony. The listener quickly understands who he is dealing with. In a very simple piece by Arvo Pärt, Babayan seems to test the diffusion of sound in the room, leaving the silences to hover. The fade out of the last note is pure magic, since the goal is to perplex the listener: when does the sound stop?

Le Devoir, 19 November 2016

When the first notes arose from the piano, the listener instantly knew and felt in his deepest self that something exceptional was about to take shape. O my friends, what touch, what infinite sensitivity, what admirable articulation, what respiration that emanated from the piano! Mozart in a way that, once again, elevated us beyond ourselves. It is worth noting that Sergei Babayan is none other than the teacher of Daniil Trifonov. Custom has it that the student surpasses the teacher; here, nothing seems less certain.

Res Musica, 26 July 2017

The long evening wrapped with Concerto No. 5, played with gusto and good humor by Sergei Babayan, who was also Mr. Trifonov's teacher. These five short movements are sunnier and more serene than their predecessors, and yet still require monster technique from the soloist and sensitivity from the conductor. Mr. Babayan and Mr. Gergiev made a good team, and the conductor yielded the stage so the pianist could offer an encore. It was of course, more Prokofiev, one of the composer's eccentric Visions fugitives.

SuperConductor, 26 February 2016

Sergei Babayan brought consummate technique and insight to the cryptic Fifth Concerto, another work in which Prokofiev’s Neo-Classical approach is rendered Modernist, even baffling, through fragmentation and harmonic strangeness. The intrepid audience awarded hearty ovations to every pianist. Hopefully it won’t take another marathon to hear the overlooked, underrated concertos.

The New York Times, 25 February 2016

DICTATED FROM ABOVE. An Interview with Sergei Babayan. - ... What is so special about Chopin's music? - Wow! Where do I start? Many things are special, as in all geniuses. First of all, the intensity of the way he felt life and the way he could express this in his ingenious music, in harmony, in his melodies. When I try to find elements that are close to me, it would be the certain nostalgia, and love, and pain, and happiness, and elegance, and effortlessness, and the impeccable taste and perfectionism to the extent that you start to wonder, was it a human being who wrote this music or was it dictated from above? He has a capricious nature; when you do a little too much, it immediately “takes revenge on” you.

Chopin Society of Atlanta, 15 October 2015

Babayan exuded the gravity of a monumental sculpture in bronze, as he teased out the beauties of this more ruminative work.

The Independent, 30 July 2015

Babayan favors a playing style that speaks to the senses, to the range of his love for the music, which is unsurpassed. An enthusiastic multi-instrumentalist, tirelessly studying the works of his predecessors as if they were his contemporaries, he does not hide himself from this nearly obsessive research of a spiritual music, which comes close to magic. A virtuoso, whose golden touch left us in bliss. According to the experts, he is without a doubt one of the best musicians of our time.

L'Actualité, 3 December 2014