One of today’s smartest musical thinkers, the American pianist Kirill Gerstein can always be relied on to come up with something interesting by way of a programme and this Carnegie Hall recital was no exception. Despite works spanning two-and-a-half centuries (from the Classical period to 2019), an overarching Austro-Hungarian theme not only bound them together but threw up fascinating connections between, say, the reasonably obvious works of Brahms and Haydn, but also Schubert and György Kurtág, and even Liszt and Thomas Adès. With a first half combining a light-hearted spring with a certain plein airtunefulness, and a second half that shifted into moodier, more thoughtful territory, it also offered a satisfying emotional journey in the company of a knowledgeable guide.

Kirill Gerstein at Carnegie Hall. All photos © Fadi Kheir

Gerstein is one of the least showy of virtuosos. A sober, sensible presence at the keyboard in dark suit and polo neck, his gestures are kept in close proximity to the instrument. Any weight – and he can summon a formidable heft when he wants to – is supplied by sheer muscular control,...

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