"Myriad gradations of tone"
Pianist Vijay Venkatesh brings out the joy in this music, particularly, it strikes me, relishing the jazz aspects of the piece…The piece opens in a blaze of pianistic light, almost music for a circus big top. Richman introduces some spicy dissonances that take it into his own world, though. Technically, there are many challenges here, and Venkatesh has no detectable problems with any of them. Venkatesh’s sense of rhythm, so important in this music, is also highly developed. Richman clearly has a highly developed sense of humor, something difficult to bring off in the clinical environment of a recording studio and yet exactly what Venkatesh does here. Helter-skelter two-part passages are delightful, and brilliantly executed by the present pianist…Venkatesh's performance is replete with lightning reflexes, but he also knows how to sit on the knife-edge of expression and Schmaltz without tipping over, and that is no mean achievement. I also find Richman a fine tunesmith, which adds immeasurably to the pleasure afforded here… All works here receive their World Premiere recordings. The recording is excellent, allowing appreciation of Venkatesh’s myriad gradations of tone. Lucas Richman’s music is richly varied, skillful, and fun; but I really want to hear more of Venkatesh’s sterling pianism. His excellent website promises an all-Mozart disc on Naxos, which I for one will be keeping an eye out for.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (5/5)
Colin clarke, FAnfare magazine
"METEORIC RISE TO STARDOM"
"Mr. Venkatesh’s meteoric rise to stardom is as breathtaking to read about as his playing is to hear.... blown away by Venkatesh’s artistically mature performance."
"ELECTRIFYING & UNFORGETTABLE."
“Venkatesh has an extremely rare combination of effortless technical command and authority with a sense of poetry and refinement that belies his years…electrifying and unforgettable… he’s a spectacular pianist.”
"Camille Saint-Saens’ second piano concerto with the Sarasota Orchestra, in the emotionally-charged key of G Minor, was a knockout, thanks to the dazzling pianism of festival alumnus Vijay Venkatesh, who turned the flash of the concerto into meaningful music without losing its virtuosic impact. At times, the speed and accuracy of his playing verged on the impossible, but he managed to convey all the technical challenges of the score without losing its emotional framework or his composure, matched by that of conductor Jeffrey Kahane.”
"RESONANT, GOLDEN TONE"
“The resonant, golden tone Vijay Venkatesh brought to the severe, Bach-like opening of Saint-Saëns Concerto No.2 was admirable….Venkatesh sold me with his Saint-Saëns; genial, fluent, technically firm.”
GAVIN BORCHERT, SEATTLE WEEKLY
"A MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE"
”Venkatesh was at all times in complete control of the Saint-Saens 2nd concerto with the Sarasota Orchestra, from the improvisatory introduction to the rather stately first movement, the brisk scherzo of the second to the finger-bending virtuosity of the final tarantella. He gave a masterful performance, showing great dexterity and musical taste throughout…an inspiring and uplifting musical experience culminating in one of the loudest standing ovations I’ve ever heard.“
EDWARD ALLEY, NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
“Vijay Venkatesh’s sparkling pianism and innate sense of partnership were a joy to hear.”
LE SALON DE MUSIQUES
“Venkatesh opened the concert with Saint-Saens’ Concerto No. 2, in a performance with the Seattle Symphony which demonstrated profound musicianship as well as an unobtrusive technique which emphasized the atmosphere of the work. There was never a careless note in his performance, every detail shaped with thought for its place in the work and judicious use of pedal so that clarity came through in beautiful legato passages, full of tenderness and lucidity. At the same time the last movement felt light and easy despite lightning speed. This listener wouldn’t hesitate to go and hear him again, thanks to this moving, insightful performance.”
PHILLIPA KIRALY, THE SUN BREAK
"EXUDES A MUSICAL CONFIDENCE"
“The centerpiece concerto — Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 — has been recorded and performed seemingly endlessly. But never quite like Saturday – and that’s a compliment... For such a young pianist, Venkatesh exudes a musical confidence, as his reading of the concerto was far more languid, more lyrical and more nuanced than the standard performance... His sense of color, of dynamics and of phrasing all revealed lyricism in areas that many play as barren passagework... With both an endearing stage presence (could we be thinking Van Cliburn here?) and a personal voice, Venkatesh seems destined to make a musical impact on bigger stages.”
"A BRILLIANT FUTURE"
“Vijay Venkatesh joined the orchestra as soloist in Liszt’s dynamic Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat. Venkatesh lived up to his already impressive resume, handling well the various challenges of this virtuosic work. He established a grand mood by dispatching the powerful octaves at the beginning with complete assurance. Throughout, his fingers danced over the keys at the appropriate moments but also sang beautifully in the more lyrical parts of the concerto. At the end of the piano concerto, the audience jumped to its feet to hail Venkatesh. He graciously played as an encore a solo piece “The Maiden and the Nightingale” by Granados. Once again his superb musicianship, sure technique, and sensitive expression were abundantly on display…he has all the promise of a brilliant future.”
TIMOTHY GAYLARD, THE ROANOKE TIMES
The Aristeia Trio shined in the Adagio, especially in the profusely decorated themes of the recapitulation. The finale gave us a glimpse of Venkatesh’s piano virtuosity with a set of variations on “Pria ch’io l’impegno." Venkatesh was dazzling in the first variation with staccato runs and whirling tremolos. He had the artistic sensibilities and technical control of his instrument to play like Beethoven in the foreground when appropriate, yet stay inobtrusive when in the background. After the fourth variation’s moment of reflection, Venkatesh stepped forward with an exuberant burst of energy that changed the mood entirely. The eighth was pure elegance, and the Trio was jubilant with Beethoven’s romping 6/8 ending.
"MASSIVE STAGE PRESENCE"
The ever-popular first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat minor, Op. 23... Here again was a young player in command of so much — strength, agility, a sense of musical line and color, and not least, a massive stage presence throughout this densely written, demanding work.