Boris Berezovsky began to study the piano at the age of five; he then had private lessons with Alexander Satz whilst attending the Moscow Conservatory, where his teacher was Elisso Virsaladze. At the age of eighteen Berezovsky made his London debut at the Wigmore Hall when he was described as ‘an artist of exceptional promise’. Two years later he won first prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He has since had an international career, performing in all the major capitals of Europe, Japan and America, where he made his debut in Dallas. Berezovsky has worked with many orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. As a chamber musician he performs with violinist Vladimir Repin. In 1995 in Moscow he organised a festival of Medtner’s piano music, a composer whom he has championed since his student years.
Berezovsky favours the Romantic and Russian repertoire. His disc of Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata No. 1 Op. 28 and Variations on a theme of Chopin Op. 22 won the German Record Critics’ Award in 1994. Two years earlier he won the same prize for his recording of the complete Chopin études, a British critic describing him as ‘…an uncommonly sensitive and poetic musician never tempted to use Chopin’s études as mere vehicles for virtuoso display’. Berezovsky ‘live’ can be unpredictable: of a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 23, made at the gala concert after the Competition, a critic noted that the pianist was ‘technically vulnerable in many of the most demanding passages’. However, his recordings of such technically challenging works as Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 Op. 30 have received high praise, and a recital disc of Russian works contains poetic readings of Liadov, Rachmaninov and Medtner, and ends with a stunning performance of Balakirev’s Islamey. However, his 1997 recording of Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante was described as ‘…for those who like their heroics viewed dispassionately from the outside. Beyond the Russian repertoire his playing remains imperious, but enigmatic.’ Berezovsky was not yet thirty when he recorded these studies, so although he may be technically complete, there remains plenty of time for him to evolve musically.
A disc of Ravel, which includes Gaspard de la nuit, received similar reviews, highlighting that although there is a feeling of musical inflexibility in Berezovsky’s playing, his technique is quite extraordinary. Beginning a review with ‘You will go a long way to hear a Ravel recital as single-minded or cruelly masterful as this,’ a critic in Gramophone resigned himself at the end by saying: ‘But you will have to admit that Berezovsky is a prodigious, if brutally compulsive virtuoso.’