Johann Sebastian Bach, Samuel Barber, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gregory Fritze
CHRISTOPHER ATZINGER, piano
"[Atzinger] is blessed with abundant energy, powerful fingers, a big sound and natural musicality. He makes the best possible case for Gregory Fritze's well made...1989 Sonata, moulding the jagged, proclamatory unison motifs and fuill-throated chords in contrary motion with immense authority, taking great care with the slow movement's inside-the-piano strumming and plucking...Atzinger more than holds his own against the Barber Sonata's finest recorded practitioners (Horowitz, Cliburn, Browning and Wild)...Atzinger benefits from MSR's warm, roomy and most attractive engineering."
Gramophone [July 2008]
"Atzinger proves himself to be a master of the fugue in his debut recital...we are treated to a great overview of this form. Atzinger uses excellent articulation and a wide array of pianistic colors to assist us [hear the fugues]. Here we have a pianist not only with the technique, but the brains to put all of this together. Please don't think that this is a purely academic recording-the virtuosic bravura on display here is visceral. [Fritze] has written a very enjoyable work and couldn't ask for a better performance. There are no weak moments [in this release], only wonderful music-making. Christopher Atzinger is surely a pianist to keep a watch for."
American Record Guide [May/June 2008]
"After a solid presentation of the Bach…Atzinger instigates a serious, measured realization of Beethoven’s A Major Sonata...The aggressive march has Atzinger throwing sparks, glitter, and occasional thunderbolts...The Barber Sonata seems to be an Atzinger calling-card, with its high-flown, percussive lyricism. Atzinger bestows upon the opening Allegro energico the same taut, hard-edged patina we know from the Horowitz and Browning versions of this piece. The second movement Scherzo might be Barber’s equivalent of a Liszt etude, according to Atzinger’s playful fingers. The fugal last movement has Atzinger in molten form, providing ardent, scintillating evidence of his technical and sympathetic commitment to this music."
Audiophile Audition [February 2008]
PROGRAM NOTESLauded in Gramophone for his “abundant energy, powerful fingers, big sound, and natural musicality,” and praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “fervency and panache,” American pianist Christopher Atzinger is celebrated for insightful performances and a reputation for excellence. He has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, highlighted by recital performances at Carnegie Hall (New York), Salle Cortot (Paris), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), National Concert Hall (Dublin), American Academy (Rome), Liszt Museum (Budapest), Barocco Cultural Arts (Valletta), the Smithsonian Gallery of American Art and the Phillips Collection (Washington), and the Dame Myra Hess Series (Chicago). Festival appearances include the Banff International Keyboard Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Bridge Chamber Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Institution.
Atzinger is a medalist of the New Orleans, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Shreveport and Seattle international piano competitions. He is also winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Artist Competition and the Simone Belsky Piano Competition, as well as the Premio Città di Ispica prize at the IBLA Grand Prize Competition in Italy. Additionally, he is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Theodore Presser Foundation, Foundation La Gesse, American Composers Forum and Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation. Most recently, he was awarded a large McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists.
Christopher Atzinger’s live performances have aired on radio stations WFMT-Chicago, WJR-Detroit, WXEL-South Florida, KPAC-San Antonio, WUOL-Louisville, and WGTE-Toledo and on Kansas, South Dakota, and New England Public Radio, along with television stations in Chicago and Cincinnati. His recordings have also been featured on WQXR-New York, WGBH-Boston, Minnesota Public Radio, and nationally on American Public Media’s Performance Today. As guest soloist, he has appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, North Carolina’s Brevard Repertory Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Shreveport, Springfield (MA), Jackson (MI) and St. Olaf, under the batons of Klauspeter Seibel, Steven Smith, Dennis Simons, Kevin Rhodes, Stephen Osmond, Mischa Santora, and Steven Amundson.
Atzinger’s discography includes three highly praised albums released on the MSR Classics label – a debut solo recording of Bach, Beethoven, Barber and Fritze; and all-Brahms album; and “American Lyricism” featuring works by Christopher Theofanidis, Richard Danielpour, Monica Houghton, Pierre Jalbert, and Justin Merrit. He has also recorded works of Judith Lang Zaimont for Naxos and music of Amy Beach for Centaur Records.
Also having interests in collaborative music, Atzinger has performed with violinist Igor Yuzefovich (concertmaster, Singapore Symphony), cellists Douglas Harvey (principal, Austin Symphony), and Michael Kannen (Peabody Conservatory); clarinetist Jun Qian (Baylor Univ); sopranos Kelly Kaduce, Mary Wilson, and Brenda Nicole Atzinger; pianists Gloria Reimer (Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia-Rome) and Kathryn Ananda-Owens (St. Olaf College); and several members of the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to being a winner of the Sydney Wright Memorial Collaborative Piano Competition, he has also collaborated with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Music Company.
A Michigan native, Christopher began piano lessons at age six. He went on to earn degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Among his principal teachers he counts Julian Martin, Robert McDonald, Anton Nel, David Renner and Carolyn Lipp. Additional keyboard studies were undertaken with Timothy Lovelace, Edward Parmentier and Penelope Crawford. A dedicated teacher and coach himself, Dr. Atzinger taught at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, prior to joining the St. Olaf College music faculty in 2005 where he is currently an Associate Professor of Music. He has also lectured at The Juilliard School and Berklee College of Music, and conducted master classes throughout the United States. [ christopheratzinger.com ]
PROGRAMJOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
PRELUDE AND FUGUE IN G-SHARP MINOR, BWV.863
from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
PIANO SONATA IN A MAJOR, OP.101
SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981)
SONATA FOR PIANO, OP.26
GREGORY FRITZE (b.1954)
SONATA FOR PIANO (1989)