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“The golden highlight of the evening was the following Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major with the Armenian soloist Vardan Mamikonian. Mamikonian has a wonderful "great" technique; he played Liszt with great enthusiasm and vigor, with an electrifying rhythmic energy and a sovereign overlook. It was obvious that he was enjoying Liszt tremendously. The orchestra also played with similar enthusiasm and interest. A special admiration then deserved the perfect interaction between soloist and the orchestra - Boreykosafely "captured" all the rubatos that are countless in this highly romantic concert.”
Written by Věroslav Němec, Monday, October 8, 2018, Harmonie

The crowning glory of the evening was Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in A major, with the Armenian Vardan Mamikonian as soloist. Mamikonian is in command of a fabulously ’grand’ technique; he performed the Liszt with huge vitality and vigour, with a positively electrifying rhythmic drive and with supreme authority. He was clearly enjoying this performance considerably, and the orchestra played with no less spirit and commitment. Particularly deserving of admiration here was the faultless ensemble between soloist and orchestra; Boreyko was right on cue to "pick up" all the countless little instances of rubato that occur in this Late Romantic concerto. 2018

«(,,,) Still it was Mamikonian whose granitic traversal of the opening chord sequence of the concerto set the pulse racing.
The artist, who made his local debut several years ago when he subbed for the ailing Murray Perahia in san Francisco Performances recital, proved a fearless, uninhibited exponent of the work.
For the most part, the playing was fresh, invigorating and imbued with personnality. »

Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Chronicle (about Tchaikovsky concerto n°1 with San Francisco Symphony, in Davies Symphony Hall)

"I have only come across the Armenian pianist Vardan Mamikonian once before. That was several years ago on an Orfeo CD where he played, amongst other things, a very fine performance of the Liszt Piano Concerto no. 1 in E flat. I was duly impressed. His name is not very well known in the UK, though he has given a recital in the International Piano Series at the Royal Festival Hall recently, and also performed at the Wigmore Hall. He was born in 1970 in Erivan (Armenia) and, after early piano studies, attended the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Valery Kastelski and later with the renowned Lazar Berman. He has been the winner of several piano prizes. On this Dynamic CD, he returns once again to Liszt, with a programme including the Piano Sonata in B minor, together with four of the composer’s shorter piano works.
Like Horowitz in 1932 (Naxos Historical 8.110606) and Argerich in her recording of 1971 (DG 447430-2), he successfully makes the distinction between the big dramatic parts and the quieter lyrical sections, endowing the latter with poise and sensitivity. Having said all this, Mamikonian is able to traverse the Sonata’s wide range of emotions and deliver an enriching performance, one to which I would certainly return.

Amongst the other pieces on the CD, Funérailles from the Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses is the most frequently recorded. A fairly substantial elegy made up of four distinct sections, it is often played in isolation. It is worthy of comparison with other recordings. I enjoy the way that Mamikonian, like Brendel in his 1991 recording (Philips 4758247), builds up the introduction to bar eighteen when the ‘battle trumpets’ come in and then sets just the right mood for the funeral march. The third section is a beautiful A flat melody. That said, he does not make the melody sing as much as Arrau in 1983 (Philips 4805090) or touch on the wistfulness and tenderness of Jorge Bolet’s 1983 recording (Decca 410115-2). Finally, there is the triumphant end with the octave passages reminiscent of the middle section of Chopin’s A flat Polonaise Op.53, written seven years earlier. Some performances I have heard are too ‘barn-storming’ for my liking, but Mamikonian strikes exactly the right balance.
The remainder of the CD is made up of three short works: the Première Valse Oubliée, the late desolate piece La Lugubre Gondola and the ubiquitous Nocturne no. 3 Liebestraum. Each is beautifully played, the pianist showing a great affinity for Liszt’s music.
Overall, this is a very fine CD, with performances that will stand up to repeated listening. The piano sound is bright and forward, the overall effect being extremely good.
A very fine CD, with performances that will stand up to repeated listening.

Masterwork Index: Liszt sonata
Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International

« Vardan Mamikonian a fait preuve d’une technique qui allie puissance et poésie avec une sensibilité pleine de nuances et des éclairs de génie sur le plan de l’interprétation. Une qualité constante du jeu de Vardan Mamikonian fut cette grande concentration qui donne à la musique cette dynamique non seulement dans les passages brillants mais également dans les passages plus doux. » Alan Kozinn, New York Times

« Son jeu est d’une beauté irradiante : jamais Mamikonian ne cogne, toujours il chante. Ses interprétations élégantes, raffinées.... » A. Lompech - Le Monde

« Avec Mamikonian, le monde du piano romantique a gagné non seulement un prestigieux technicien et interprète, mais avant tout un superbe "styliste ». Klaus Bennert, Süddeutsche Zeitung

«C’est décidément un très grand pianiste. » Pierre Petit - Le Figaro

"He’s 28, Armenian, Moscow-trained, has worked with Lazar Berman in Italy, has started an international career, and he is an extraordinary talent, if this Liszt program is representative of his work. (On recordings, one never really knows, does one?) Vardan Mamikonian seems to have everything going for him - a powerful technique, a resonant sound capable of all kinds of nuance, and an individual musical mind. He even gives La Campanella a thoughtful performance, if there can be any such thing in that piece. But he has different ideas about tempos and phrasing from most pianists, and he gives that old war horse a fresh ride, concentrating on sound and tempo shifts - slow sometimes, speeding when necessary, never neglecting the virtuosity. His Spanish Rhapsody is a model combination of poetry and bravura. A pianist with large-scale dynamics, he also knows how and when to throttle down. He gets rich textures through a canny use of the pedals, and never sounds blurred or bangy. In the Funerailles his octave passages (Liszt’s tribute to Chopin’s A-flat Polonaise) have thrust and strength. Vallee d’Obermann, always a problem piece because of its length and melodrama, sounds clear and direct under Mamikonian’s hands, the beautiful singing lines alternating with the dynamic explosions, which for once do not sound fustian. And he simply glides through Mephisto, making us realize what an attractive devil the old boy can be. In short, Mamikonian is a finished artist as well as a virtuoso pianist. And to round everything off he has been given faithful recorded sound."
Au sujet du CD Liszt, Orfeo 472981 (Qualiton) 64 minutes:
American Record Guide Harold C. SCHONBERG

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