‘Powell has the energy of a nuclear reactor.’
‘His piano playing is characterised by enormous sonority and precisely differentiated dynamics; even in the loudest passages’
‘No wonder that this technically almost unbeatable artist immediately enchants the listener here.’
Jonathan Powell’s most recent CD release features the world premiere studio recording of Hans Winterberg’s First Piano Concerto for Capriccio, with the RSB orchestra under Johannes Kalitzke to great critical acclaim intenationally. He is currently undertaking a critical edition of all of Winterberg’s piano works for Boosey and Hawkes, and will eventually record all 4 piano concertos. In July 2022, Powell is recording Xaver Scharwenka’s First Piano Concerto with the Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductor Łukasz Borowicz for CPO. During early April 2022, Powell performed Sorabji’s Sequentia cyclica over five concerts at the Heidelberg Fruehling, as the special guest of Igor Levit.
During autumn 2022, he will tour Scriabin’s complete piano sonatas across Europe.
Jonathan Powell made his London début at the Purcell Room aged 20, but devoted much the following decade to composition (his works were performed by the Arditti Quartet, the London Sinfonietta and Nicolas Hodges) and musicology (his PhD concerns the influence of Scriabin). He then undertook intensive piano study with Sulamita Aronovsky (previously, in his late teens, he had been guided by Denis Matthews) resulting a shift in emphasis towards performance. A series of CD recordings and international engagements followed. He is a passionate advocate of music from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially from Russia and eastern Europe, but is also a proponent of contemporary music, having premièred works by Dufourt, Ambrosini, and others. His repertoire also includes much standard material (Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann). In 2009 he gave the first of his many performances of Scriabin’s 10 sonatas. During 2013 he toured Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jésus and Albeniz’ Iberia, while 2015 featured numerous performances of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata and Reger’s Bach Variations. Recent activities include a tour of the complete piano works of Xenakis and, in 2017, Liszt’s Sonata, Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke and several performances of Sorabji’s Opus clavicembalisticum. In 2018 he gave six performances of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues.
Solo recitals taken him to the Festival Radio France Montpellier, the Elbphilharmonie (sold-out), the Raritäten der Klaviermusik am Schloss vor Husum, Vredenburg Muziekcentrum in Utrecht, across the US, Musica Sacra in Maastricht, the series Fundación BBVA in Bilbao, and the Moscow Conservatoire. In recent years, he has broadcast for Radio France, Radio Netherlands, Radio Deutschland Kultur, the BBC and Czech Radio. He is a featured artist at the Jacqueline du Pré hall in Oxford, giving three annual concerts, as well as teaching and leading workshops for students. He has also appeared at the Indian Summer in Levoča Festival (Slovakia) every year since its inception in 2007, as recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestra. He has recently given masterclasses in Katowice, Brno, Oxford, London, Denmark, Seattle and Darmstadt. In May 2020 he won the Preis der Deutschen Schallplatenkritiken for his recording of Sorabji’s Sequentia cyclica. His extensive discography includes solo piano works and a concertante piece by Morgan Hayes (on NMC), as well as two volumes of John White’s piano sonatas for Convivium.
The years following 2005 saw a substantial decline in composition, as preparation and travel for intense concert schedules took over. A Sonata (2010) for violin and piano was followed by nine years of silence. During the summer of 2019, Powell composed an unambitious cycle of piano miniatures – Zagórów and Other Places – which he has performed in Gdańsk, Brno and Katowice. Summer of 2020 saw him compose a more substantial Partita for solo piano, dedicated to his friend the composer-pianist Christophe Sirodeau on the occasion of his 50th birthday.