Named a BBC Radio New Generation Artist in 2014, Russian-born 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.
Kolesnikov was born in Novosibirsk, then part of the Soviet Union, in 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.
In 2012 Kolesnikov moved to London. His reasons were musical-philosophical: he told The Telegraph that "Russia has a very young culture, and has not developed a great power of abstract thinking. That's why we have so few philosophers. That's why I became very interested in Western culture...I wanted to find a more pure style of playing, particularly for older music. In Russia we approach everything from a romantic point of view, which is not enough." 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.
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. Kolesnikov's engagements for the 2017-2018 season included concerto performances at the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall, as well as a recital at the Louvre in Paris.