Pavel Kolesnikov

Biography by James Manheim

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Winning the Honens Prize for piano in 2012 was Kolesnikov's big break, opening new opportunities to perform in many places.
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Artist Biography by James Manheim

Named a BBC Radio New Generation Artist in 2014, pianist Pavel Kolesnikov is among the boldest of the young Russian and Eastern European artists who have made their marks on London's vibrant piano scene. He has become a youthful staple of the major Hyperion label.

Kolesnikov was born in Novosibirsk, then part of the Soviet Union, on February 25, 1989. The remote Central Asian city had a strong classical music culture to which he was exposed as a child. Kolesnikov studied both piano and violin, settling definitively on the former instrument only in his mid-teens. In 2007, he enrolled at the Moscow State Conservatory after traveling to the city to witness the Tchaikovsky Competition. He quickly stood out, winning designation as a President's Order Young Talent of Russia in his first year. By 2011, Kolesnikov had entered the Tchaikovsky Competition himself, coming away with a Special Jury Prize. The following year, he won Canada's Honens Prize for piano, an honor that spread his name among concert bookers, as did designation as a BBC New Generation Artist from 2014 to 2016.

In 2012, Kolesnikov moved to London. His reasons were musical-philosophical: he found the Russian school overly romantic in its orientation and hoped to add external influences to his style. Continuing his studies with Maria João Pires in Belgium, he began to find recital and chamber music opportunities in Britain, Canada, and the U.S. He gave a critically lauded debut recital at London's Wigmore Hall in 2014 and has gone on to appear at major venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and Seoul's Kumho Art Hall.

Kolesnikov's Honens performances were recorded and issued as an album in 2013. He was signed to the Hyperion label the following year and released an album featuring Tchaikovsky's The Seasons. His real critical breakthrough came with his sophomore Hyperion release, a set of Chopin mazurkas issued in 2016. With bold, highly atmospheric readings of such familiar pieces as the Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4, the album won the prestigious Diapason d'Or award in late 2016. Beginning in the late 2010s, Kolesnikov has issued annual albums on Hyperion, including, in 2020, one of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. His repertory ranges far beyond Russian music, both on recordings and in performance.