Leif Ove Andsnes
modernist supervirtuoso with an unstoppable technique, Andsnes has played everything from Bartók's immensely difficult Second Piano Concerto to Rachmaninoff's impossibly difficult Third Concerto, and he's played all of it with complete command of the keyboard. He's also got a sculpted tone that shapes Chopin's sensual mazurkas and carves Nielsen's monumental Chaconne out of solid blocks of musical marble. Plus he's got a cool sound that clarifies the passions of Janácek's In the Mists and elucidates the cruel geometry of Nielsen's Lucifer Suite.
Andsnes is more than a modernist supervirtuoso. Listening deeply and widely to his recording reveals that below the virtuoso surface, he makes vital music. He's also a soulful Chopin player - his sonatas are achingly expressive, and his mazurkas sing with effervescent ease - and a sensitive accompanist. His Schubert lieder with tenor Ian Bostridge are luminously unified, and his recording of Schumann's Mrchenbilder with violist Lars Anders Tomter is magically fused. But the ultimate proof of Andsnes's quality is in his Grieg recordings. Radiantly rapturous, ecstatically joyous, and wholly at one with the warm heart of the music, Andsnes's Grieg is as good as it gets.