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Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia, the 1995 Rubinstein Competition winner, is back in town for the Israel Chamber Orchestra's Beethoven Marathon, its highlight series for the season. Combining in-depth renditions with impeccable virtuosity and sheer beauty of sound, 41-year-old Korsantia is not just another successful pianist.
Moving to the US from his native Tbilisi in 1992, he continued his studies at the University of Indiana, South Bend, then migrated to Vancouver. Two years ago he moved to Boston, and has nothing but praise for the New England metropolis.
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"Culture isn't lacking in America, but this old city may be the only place where you not are only headed forward but can also look back at the lavish cultural tradition behind you. And yes, I enjoy Boston's immense cultural diversity."
Korsantia is a faculty member of the New England Conservatory, "one of the two oldest music schools in the US, and one of the best in the world. Great musicians taught here, and that makes itself felt."
In his generous and emphatic manner he says that he has a huge class of students, "all of whom are very talented, all of whom are my friends and all of whom I love."
Busy as he is in passing on the pianist tradition, playing is his primary occupation. He performs in the Americas, in Canada and in Europe, both with major orchestras and in recital.
Korsantia says he's happy to play the Beethoven program.
"Beethoven composed his first piano concerto ('Piano Concerto in E-flat Major') at the age of 14, yet it is an important and unique piece, able to compete with early Mozart works." This concerto was performed in full for the first time only in 1943, almost 200 years after being written, "probably because the original orchestration was lost. In this piece, Beethoven, who strived to escape the provincial, showcases utmost virtuosity. I will probably be the first to perform this concerto in Israel. I wrote my own cadenzas for it, relying on later Beethoven pieces."
The fourth concerto is totally different. "This is a pure, angelic piece, created by a wise and mature human being, with not a single sound of false emotion about it, with a lot of pain - but also happiness - in every note."
Together with pianists David Greilsammer and Victor Stanislavsky, he'll be performing Beethoven's concerti under ICO artistic director and conductor Gil Shohat - who will also take the keyboards for one performance - in concerts between Friday and Thursday at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and in the Kfar Sava and Or Akiva cultural centers.
For details, see Billboard's classical music listings, or call (03) 518-8845, ext. 106 (Tel Aviv), (04) 636-1340 or 626-6636 (Or Akiva) or (09) 764-0810 or 764-0811 (Kfar Saba). Tickets range from NIS 78 to NIS 155.