French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has attracted critical acclaim throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. He has extended his interpretative voice across a broad range of repertoire rather than choosing to specialize in one particular style. The London Times, describing his playing as "ever immaculate, ever imaginative", has identified the artist's "combination of total spontaneity and meditated ripeness that only great pianists have".
Mr. Lortie has performed complete Beethoven sonata cycles at London's Wigmore Hall, Berlin's Philharmonie, and the Sala Grande del Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. Die Welt described his Berlin performances as "possibly the finest Beethoven since the time of Wilhelm Kempff." As both pianist and conductor with the Montreal Symphony, he has performed all five Beethoven concertos and all of the Mozart concertos. Mr. Lortie has also won widespread acclaim for his interpretation of Ravel and Chopin. He performed the complete works of Ravel in London and Montreal for the BBC and CBC, and is renowned all over the world for his performances of the complete Chopin etudes.
In 2011, Louis Lortie celebrated the bicentenary of Liszt's birth by performing the complete Années de pèlerinage at international music capitals and festivals. The Los Angeles Times said of his performance there, "The day was glorious, both for spectacular virtuosic playing and for spectacular music that revolutionized the piano repertoire…the audience got their money's worth along with bragging rights of having heard Lortie's staggering first complete transversal in concert here of these works". Other engagements last season included playing and conducting with the Slovenian Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, and Quebec Symphony; concerts with the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Philadelphia, Bournemouth, and St. Louis; a tour of Italy with the Kremerata Baltica; and a performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Brahms Festival in Brussels.
In 2012-2013 he performs Gershwin in Sao Paulo with Tortelier, Liszt with NHK Tokyo and Dutoit, Chopin with the Cleveland Orchestra and Van Zweden, Schubert and Liszt with Krivine in Utrecht, Mozart with the Royal Philharmonic and Dutoit; tours with the La Scala Orchestra playing Brahms 2 and with the Beethoven Orchester Bonn playing Beethoven 4 and 5. He returns to Chicago's Orchestra Hall and other important venues to perform a recital program of opera transcriptions called "Lortie goes to the Opera (Mostly with Wagner)". Other recitals include Copenhagen, Osaka, Cremona and Dresden.
Mr. Lortie has performed with the world's leading conductors, including Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, Charles Dutoit, Kurt Sanderling, Neeme Järvi, Sir Andrew Davis, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sir Mark Elder, and Osmo Vänskä. He has also been involved in many chamber-music projects with such musicians as Frank Peter Zimmermann, Leonidas Kavakos, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Jan Vogler, Augustin Dumay, the Takács Quartet, and Gidon Kremer. His regular piano-duo partner is fellow Canadian Hélène Mercier.
He has made more than 30 recordings for the Chandos label, covering repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky, including a set of the complete Beethoven sonatas and the complete Liszt's Années de pèlerinage. His recording of the Lutosławski Piano Concerto and Paganini Variations with Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony was released earlier this year. Future recording projects include a disc of Liszt's transcriptions.
Mr. Lortie's recording of Beethoven's Eroica Variations earned him an Edison Award. His disc of works by Schumann and Brahms was named one of the best CDs of the year by BBC Music Magazine, which also named his disc of Chopin etudes one of "50 Recordings by Superlative Pianists." His interpretation of Liszt's complete works for piano and orchestra with the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague was a Gramophone Editor's Choice. For the Canadian label ATMA Classique, he has recorded Mendelssohn concertos with the Orchestre symphonique de Quebec and, as conductor, Mendelssohn's "Reformation" Symphony.
Louis Lortie studied in Montreal with Yvonne Hubert (a pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot), in Vienna with Beethoven specialist Dieter Weber, and subsequently with Schnabel disciple Leon Fleisher. He made his debut with the Montreal Symphony at the age of 13; three years later, his first appearance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra led to an historic tour of the People's Republic of China and Japan. In 1984, he won First Prize in the Busoni Competition and was also prizewinner at the Leeds Competition. In 1992, he was named Officer of the Order of Canada, and received both the Order of Quebec and an honorary doctorate from Université Laval. He has lived in Berlin since 1997 and also has homes in Canada and Italy.
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