Russo is an expansive and atmospheric interpreter...he revels in the intricate detail of the figuration. Russoâ€™s relative repose involves no loss of tension, and I found his impressionistic approach mesmeric - Gramophone
After spending several agreeable sessions listening to this remarkable young American pianist, I can enthusiastically recommend this recording to anyone interested in vital, masterly performances of modern American chamber music, and to Adams fans especially - Fanfare
Andrew Russo gives compelling performances of both Gates works. He's joined by James Ehnes in Adams' 1995 Road Movies, taking us on an isolated desert trek or, as in 40s Swing with its allusions to ragtime and Benny Goodman, barreling down the highway in a big four-wheel drive. Russo sets the persistent rhythmic pulse and really gets into the groove, while Ehnes (now on the violin) craftily fleshes out the abrupt melodies and spiky harmonies. The recording sets the performers in a lively acoustic, making this a most enjoyable disc for Adams fans - Classical Net
Another keyboard wiz in his late 20s who is carving out a distinctive niche is Andrew Russo, an American pianist who settled in Europe after earning a master's degree from Juilliard in 1998. In Europe, he discovered composers like Jacob ter Veldhuis and Philippe Manoury but also developed a fondness for American experimentalists including Ives, Cowell, and Crumb. His adventurous tastes were revealed when, as one of 30 finalists in the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, he dared to play pieces like Copland's Piano Variations, piano music of Henri Dutilleux, and Crumb's A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979, hardly standard competition fare. As this new collection of chamber works by John Adams suggests, Russo is not easily pigeonholed. Far from a craggy experimentalist, Adams is America's most frequently performed living composer. Joining Russo is fellow Juilliard graduate James Ehnes, who trades his usual violin for keyboard in a performance of the 1986 two-piano piece Hallelujah Junction. Russo and Ehnes team up again in Road Movies, a 1995 piece for violin and piano also based on road imagery. From the relaxed groove of the first movement to the vast open spaces of the second movement to the rollicking, pothole-filled toccata of the finale, the duo clearly has fun with this music. The earliest works here are China Gates and Phrygian Gates, both composed in 1977 when Adams was still essentially a minimalist. Playing with intensity, sweep, and high-speed finger work, Russo proves why Phrygian Gates remains one of the composer's most rewarding pieces - Brian Wise (WNYC)
American pianist Andrew Russo is a musical interpreter of uncommon vitality. A versatile artist, both on and off the stage, Russo has made a name for himself through his work with many of todayâ€™s leading composers in the United States and Europe. His career has unfolded around the globe, with appearances in Paris (Salle Cortot), Tokyo (Kioi Hall), Leipzig (Gewandhaus), Brussels (Theatre Marni) and Luxembourg (Grande Salle du Conservatoire National).
Trained classically at The Juilliard School and the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Mendelssohn in Leipzig, Mr. Russo pursued further specialized training in Paris with Frederic Chiu. It was during those years that Russo began developing relationships with many important American and European composers, began working with electro-acoustic music and explored an ongoing interest for the hybrid world of live musical performance and theater. It was on Charleston, South Carolina's International Piano Series in 1998 that Mr. Russo first performed his own version of Prokofieff's Romeo and Juliet Suite, interspersing dramatic readings from Shakespeare with the Russian master's famous ballet score. A similar version of Erik Satie's Sports et Divertissements was subsequently presented in the United States, France and Finland, and an intense period of involvement with the music of George Crumb began.
In the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Russo created a special and historical moment by performing George Crumb's A Little Suite For Christmas, A.D. 1979, making him the first person to ever perform on the inside of the piano in this major quadrennial event. The attraction that this performance spurred led to the development of the 2002 George Crumb Celebration Festival at New York's Angel Orensanz Performing Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Serving as artistic director and pianist for this event, Mr. Russo worked closely with the composer to develop a retrospective structure closely mirroring the trajectory of Mr. Crumb's inimitable career. With the composer on hand and performances by many of today's leading young contemporary music artists - soprano Susan Narucki, composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel, flautist Tara Helen O'Conor, cellist Felix Fan and percussionist David Cossin among them - the festival was a rousing success. In a rave review of the entire weekend, Shirley Fleming wrote of "Mr. Russo's totally absorbing solo performances of Volumes I and II of Makrokosmos" (Musical America)
Two months after the Crumb Festival, the English label Black Box Records released Russo's performance of Crumb's solo piano music - "Russo is an unquestionable master of Crumb's unique sound world." (Independent) "This is one of the best recordings that I have heard of this material" (American Record Guide) In recent months, Mr. Russo has since organized Crumb Festivals within the frameworks of Finland's 2004 Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival and Sweden's 2004 Gerlesborgs Musikdagen â€œWhat a unique event!â€ (Bohuslaningen)
A prolific recording artist, Mr. Russoâ€™s series of American composer portraits for Black Box was continued in 2005 with a release of John Adams piano and chamber works â€œI found Russoâ€™s approach mesmericâ€ (Gramophone), with releases scheduled for discs dedicated to John Corigliano and Aaron Jay Kernis in 2006. The Albany label released Mr. Russo's recording of Wright Flight, a piano concerto commissioned for Russo from composer Michael Schelle by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for Daytonâ€™s Wright Brothers Centennial Celebration. French label Sub Rosa Records just released Mr. Russoâ€™s recording of CanopÃ¨e, a concerto for 2 claviers with string orchestra commissioned from Francois-Bernard Mache by Art Zoyd and Ensemble Musique Nouvelles.
As a recitalist, Mr. Russoâ€™s programs frequently feature premieres. In the last 2 years alone, Russo has given the US premieres of works by Holland's Jacob ter Veldhuis and Gerard Beljon, the French premiere of George Crumbâ€™s Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik, and world premieres of works written for Russo by American composers Derek Bermel and Marc Mellits and British composer James Aitchison. In December 2004, Mr. Russo presented the New York premiere of Philippe Manoury's monumental Pluton for piano and live electronics with the composerâ€™s collaboration. Most recently, Russo has formed a three-piece band called Real Quiet with cellist Felix Fan and percussionist David Cossin dedicated to commissioning repertoire, which will then be recorded and performed. Real Quietâ€™s first appearances in New York and San Diego premiering works by Annie Gosfield, Phil Kline and Marc Mellits were highly successful â€œThis trio is cut out to be a major presence on the new music scene.â€ (Musical America)
In addition to his activities as a performer and event organizer, Mr. Russo dedicates time to the direction and development of Music Journeys INC, a non-profit foundation which he founded in 2001. Now administrated through Le Moyne College, where Russo is artist-in-residence, the program brings American music to people of all backgrounds through special musical presentations and clinics for elementary schools in the underprivileged areas Syracuse, NY, as well as an an eclectic and interactive concert series at Le Moyne College's Coyne Performing Arts Center. It is because of the breadth and diversity of his activities that Gramophone magazine recently proclaimed: "Andrew Russo is by no means 'just another pianistâ€™". Andrew Russo is pleased to be a Yamaha artist.
Booking & Public Relations
Moira Johnson Consulting
190 Somerset St. West, Suite 209
Ottawa, ON, Canada, L2P 0J4
Tel: 1 (613) 565 0666
Info. on Music Journeys Inc:
Music Journeys Inc
7309 Dartmoor Crossing
Fayetteville, NY 13066
Tel: 1 (315) 472 3805
Fax: 1 (315) 472 8818
Check out the artist's website:
1. Phrygian Gates
2. Hallelujah Junction
3. China Gates
4. Road Movies: Relaxed Groove
5. Road Movies: Meditative
6. Road Movies: 40% Swing