Photo credit by: Jiyang Chen
Pianist Raj Bhimani's concerts are "virtuosic, heartfelt and eloquent," writes New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman. Time Out NY noted him for being a "gifted and highly expressive pianist." Mr. Bhimani performs across North America, Europe, and India, and appears regularly at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He is a champion of new music and has developed particular expertise in French literature.
Composer Henri Dutilleux declared him "a great artist who plays with sensitivity and intelligence," and Thérèse Brenet, who was moved by Mr. Bhimani's performance of her earlier work, composed six works especially for him which were all premiered in the 21st Century. He has released four solo CDs, one of which includes works of Ms. Brenet. Others are dedicated to late works of Schubert and Brahms respectively, while the most recent contains music of Ravel. He is a member of Syrinx : XXII, a chamber music group formed with two musicians from Portugal, and is also a regular contributor to Serenade Magazine.
Solo works by Maurice Ravel
MY INTRODUCTION TO RAVEL
One of the biggest inflection points in my life happened at age 22 when I moved to Paris. I had just completed my Masters Degree at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and my piano teacher there suggested I continue my studies in France with a colleague who had just served with him on the jury of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
My teacher had witnessed and encouraged my strong interest in French repertoire, and he made the suggestion with such conviction that I knew he truly believed this would be the best choice I could make. His exact words were, “She’s the perfect teacher for you. I’ll write to her tonight.” And he did.
When I recount this story to my students I preface it by explaining that this happened before the internet. I couldn’t just take out my phone and learn about this teacher in Paris. I wrote her a letter and mailed it with a recording of my graduation recital, then jumped up and down when I heard back that she’d accepted me as a student. I later understood what a rare invitation this was. I bought a one-way ticket to Paris and watched my life transform.
After arriving I learned that this wonderful teacher, Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer, was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century. She was a child prodigy born in 1923. Her lessons began at age 6, and half a year later she was performing four-hand concerts with Ravel. They performed Ma Mere l’Oye eleven times, with her playing the secondo part and operating the pedals she could barely reach. She told me stories of how nervous Ravel would get before every concert and how she had to push him onto the stage. I wish I could have seen that!
J.J. Schweitzer and his wife, Nicole Henriot, with Charles and Fritz Munch at Lido, Paris 1957; [From left to the right]
Prokofiev Piano Concerto #2 - Nicole Henriot (1/4)
Maurice Ravel © Durand & Cie, Éditeurs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
After those performances she and Ravel stayed in contact until his death in 1937. He adored children. Madame Henriot had the opportunity to study some of the pieces on this album with him. She played the entire Sonatine for him as well as parts of Miroirs. When studying the second piece from Miroirs, Oiseaux Tristes (Sad Birds), 7-year-old Nicole insisted Ravel tell her what kind of birds they were and why they were sad. After reflecting a moment he told her they were the kind of birds that lived by the sea for part of the year, and they were sad because it was time to leave.
Of course this was a different story than he told to other pianists who played that piece for him; he created a story especially for this precocious child.
Madame Henriot guided me as I first learned the three pieces on this album. I hadn’t studied any of them before my work with her, so she was able to help me develop a sense of the proper style for this music from the outset. I’ve had three decades since that time to make these pieces my own, programming them frequently in recitals.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share these cherished works with a wider audience through this recording.
Raj Bhimani, in his student years with his beloved teacher, Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer.
Late Piano Pieces
Raj Bhimani, piano
Raj Bhimani, piano
& members of the Paris Virtuosi
To the West Wind
A Recital of French Piano Music
Thérèse Brenet - Maurice Ravel -
Sonata in B-FLat Major
Six Moments Musicaux
Raj Bhimani, piano
Pianist Raj Bhimani’s concerts are “virtuosic, heartfelt and eloquent,” writes New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman. Time Out NY noted him as being a “gifted and highly expressive pianist.”
Performing regularly across North America and Europe, he also makes frequent appearances in India, where the nationally distributed newspaper The Hindu wrote, “Raj Bhimani is a very sensitive piano player, with a predilection for lyrical melody accompanied with rhythmic gracefulness.” In New York, where he resides, he appears often at Lincoln Center as well as at other venues
Mr. Bhimani is a champion of new music and has developed a particular expertise in French piano literature. During his time studying in Paris he had the opportunity to meet composer Henri Dutilleux, who declared him “a great artist who plays with sensitivity and intelligence.” In 2016, to mark what would have been the composer’s 100th birthday, Mr. Bhimani gave several performances of his works, including the Preludes, which Mr. Bhimani learned from handwritten manuscripts given to him by the composer before these works were published.
Another prominent French composer, Thérèse Brenet, has written several works especially for Mr. Bhimani. Two of Ms. Brenet’s compositions for Mr. Bhimani can be heard on a CD entitled “To the West Wind,” on the Delatour label. A disc containing Schubert’s B-flat Sonata and Moments Musicaux has also been issued by Delatour. Two more works Ms. Brenet wrote for Mr. Bhimani were issued in 2014 on a disc entitled “Le Visionnaire,” released by Musik Fabrik, which has also released a recording of late solo works by Brahms. All these recordings are available worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, and numerous other sites. A new recording of solo works by Ravel has just been released, and Mr. Bhimani has plans to travel to Poland to record two new works for piano and orchestra by Ms. Brenet with the Polish National Radio Symphony.
In addition to solo recitals, Mr. Bhimani also performs with Syrinx : XXII, a group he formed with musicians from Portugal. The ensemble performs regularly in the US, Portugal, and India, and has premiered works written especially for them by composers in Portugal and Germany.
Frequently sought after as a teacher and pedagogue, Mr. Bhimani is known for guiding students from their first encounters with a piano up to concert level performances. His students have earned numerous prizes and have been heard in performance at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and other esteemed venues in New York and across the United States. He is a frequent judge and lecturer on piano pedagogy and has served on the board of The Leschetizky Association, an organization committed to upholding the great pedagogue’s ideals of beautiful tone production and musical integrity. Mr. Bhimani is grateful to his own teachers: John Steele Ritter, Peter Hewitt, Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer, Claude Frank, and Seymour Bernstein.
• Serenade Magazine - October 31, 2018
• Serenade Magazine - February 12, 2016
• Serenade Magazine - February 1, 2016
• Serenade Magazine - March 9, 2016
• Pune Mirror - November 21, 2015
• The Hindu - December 7, 2012
Read more articles on Serenade Magazine on my Author page.
“Raj Bhimani is a gifted pianist whose programs are very well thought out and executed. Raj's professionalism and attention to detail make it a pleasure to work with him. He is an expert in French piano literature who delights his audiences playing with tremendous passion and emotion. Mr. Bhimani is truly an asset to any concert series.”
Cheryl Raymond, Program Specialist, Library for the Performing Arts
Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, New York 10023
“Raj Bhimani has that rare ability of allowing music to play through him. His deeply poetic performances ‘stir the innermost regions of the soul.’ ”
“un grand musicien qui joue avec beaucoup de sensibilité et d’intelligence.”
“a great musician who plays with much sensitivity and intelligence.”
I have downloaded two of your Cd's and play them often. You are a marvel.
"J'ai été d'abord très impressionnée par le jeu à la fois lumineux et contrasté de Raj Bhimani, par son toucher délicat et son tempérament sensible. J'ai donc, à quatre reprises écrit pour lui et je ne l'ai pas regretté, bien au contraire, J'ai été aussi très frappée par son aptitude rare à ressentir presque spontanément et à interpréter la musique du XXIe siècle et je suis heureuse de penser que les œuvres que j'ai écrites pour lui et que je lui ai confiées, sont si largement mises en valeur à travers le monde."
“I was immediately impressed by the playing of Raj Bhimani, both luminous and full of contrast, and by his delicate touch and sensitive spirit. Four times I composed for him, and I did not come to regret it; on the contrary, I was struck by his unusual ability to spontaneously grasp and interpret 21st-century music. I'm happy to know that the works I've written for and entrusted to him are being presented in their best light around the world.”
Raj Bhimani plays Dutilleux: Blackbird
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata in C Minor, Opus 13, “Pathétique,” 1st movement
Gabriel Fauré: Barcarolle #6 in E-flat Major, Op. 70
Raj Bhimani plays Maurice Ravel: Noctuelles, from Miroirs
Emmanuel Chabrier: Idylle, from Pièces Pittoresques
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• Solo Recital, Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium, New York - February 22, 2020
• SYRINX: XXII In Portugal, Lisbon: Fundação Oriente - November 30, 2019
• Broadcast Live: WXXI Classical 91.5/90.3 FM, New York - November 4 and 5, 2019
• SYRINX: XXII In New York, Rochester, NY - October 30, 2019
• SYRINX: XXII In New York, Church of Saint Edward the Martyr, New York - October 27, 2019
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris, France - April 28, 2019
• Church of Saint Edward the Martyr, New York, NY - March 16th, 2019
• Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium, New York, NY - February 16, 2019
• Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY - February 24, 2019
• The National Centre for the Performing Arts Godrej Dance Theatre, Mumbai - November 27, 2017
• Matinée concert at The Piano Man, Delhi - November 25, 2017
• International Music and Arts Society, Alliance Française Auditorium, Bangalore - November 16, 2017
• Poona Music Society, Mazda Hall, Poonai - November 14, 2017
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris - Sunday, April 23, 2017
• Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - February 25, 2017
• Fundraiser for the Blandford Historical Society, Massachusetts - July 17, 2016
• Performance at the World Wind Festival in Visakhapatnam - December 3, 2016
• Masterclass at the Academy of Music, Poona - November 28, 2016
• Concert for the Poona Music Society in Mazda Hall - November 27, 2016
• Masterclass for students in Bangalore - November 26, 2016
• Concert in Bangalore for the International Music and Arts Society at the Alliance Française - November 25, 2016
• Concert at the Alliance Française in Chandigarh - November 22, 2016
• Concert for the Delhi Music Society at the Delhi School of Music - November 19, 2016
• Concert at Ashoka University - November 17, 2016
• Concert Piano Man Jazz Club in Delhi - November 15, 2016
• Masterclass at the Bridge Academy of Music in Delhi - November 13, 2016
• Annual lecture recital, at the Barnard College, New York - July 14, 2016
• Teaching at Pianophoria Hunter College, New York - July 6 - 12, 2016
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris - April 17, 2016
• Solo Recital at West Center Church, Bronxville, New York - April 3, 2016
• Solo Recital at Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - February 20, 2016
• Alumni Concert at Pomona College for 100th anniversary of the auditorium - February 12 2016
• Judging and Performing at MusiQuest,Poona Academy of Music, India-November 18 - 22, 2015
• Chamber Music Recital with SYRINX : XXII at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal - April 24, 2015
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris - April 12, 2015
• Chamber Music Recital with SYRINX : XXII at Saint Peter's Church, New York - March 24, 2015
• Solo Recital at Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - February 21, 2015
• Solo Recital at West Center Church, Bronxville, New York - February 15th, 2015
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris - April 27, 2014
• Chamber Music Recital with SYRINX : XXII at Saint Peter’s Church, New York - April 8, 2014
• Chamber Music Recital with SYRINX : XXII at West Center Church, Bronxville, New York - April 6, 2014
• Solo Recital at Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - February 1, 2014
• Solo Recital at Anderson House, Washington, DC - May 11, 2013
• Solo Recital at Saint Peter’s Church, New York - April 16, 2013
• Solo Recital at The American Church in Paris - April 7, 2013
• Solo Recital at West Center Church, Bronxville, New York - March 10, 2013
• Solo Recital in Pune, India for the Poona Music Society - December 16, 2012
• Masterclasses at the Poona Music Academy, Pune, India - December 13 - 15, 2012
• Masterclass in Bangalore, India - December 2, 2012
• Solo Recital in Bangalore, India - December 1, 2012
• Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - November 17, 2012
• Solo Recital at BRIK Gallery, Catskill, New York - November 3, 2012
• Solo Recital at Saint Peter’s Church, New York - March 20, 2012
• Solo Recital in Delhi, India - December 14, 2011
• Solo Recital in Pune, India for the Poona Music Society - December 11, 2011
• Tour of Argentina and Uruguay with the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association - Summer, 2011
• American Church in Paris - May 1, 2011
• Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium — Solo Recital - March 6, 2011
• American Church in Paris — Solo Recital, works by Beethoven, Brenet, Ravel, and Chopin - April 11, 2010
• Saint Peter’s Church, New York — Solo Recital, works by Beethoven, Brenet, Ravel, and Chopin - March 2, 2010
• Tenri Cultural Institute, New York — Voice and Piano Recital with Katherine Ciesinski, presented by The Leschetizky Association - January 10, 2010
• Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - March, 2009
SYRINX : XXII
XXII made its debut in Manhattan in the spring of 2014, immediately receiving invitations to return, as well as to perform in Lisbon at the annual Dias da Música Festival at the CCB.
The sold-out CCB concert led to a repeat invitation, as well as to plans for the first 5-city India tour in 2016, and to a second India tour in 2018, capped off with a concert at the prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts in Bombay.
This immediately led to an invitation to return there in the 2020 season.
Syrinx : XXII has also performed at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York, the Ethical Society in Philadelphia, in New Jersey, and in Castelo Branco, Portugal. Later in 2019 the trio will perform at the Fundaçao Oriente in Lisbon, which kindly contributed toward travel expenses of the second India Tour.
Syrinx : XXII is proud to perform the music of five centuries, from the late Renaissance through the Baroque — on period or modern instruments — up through music of our days, and a growing number of works dedicated to the ensemble
Visit our new website:
Ian Clarke: Maya
Carlos Marecos: 7 Instantes - composed for Syrinx : XXII in 2016
Schubert: Ständchen (Serenade)
Follow my Instagram @rajbhimani959