By Eric Dundon
For his fourth season as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director, Stéphane Denève invited some of his friends and collaborators—some of the world’s greatest artists—to come to St. Louis to work with the SLSO. As a result, the 2022/2023 season is packed with the world’s most sought-after musical talent. Subscriptions to your SLSO guarantee thrilling musical experiences at each performance, anchored by the SLSO and the fantastic guest artist line-up. Curated and Compose Your Own Subscriptions for the 22/23 season are available here.
Here are nine of the world’s best pianists, all performing with the SLSO in the 22/23 season:
Pianist Piotr Anderszewski has the remarkable distinction of being the first artist to collaborate with Stéphane Denève when he first conducted the SLSO in 2003. In three performances with the orchestra from 2003 to 2010, Anderszewski performed concertos by Joseph Haydn and W.A. Mozart. On April 29-30, 2023, Anderszewski switches gears to perform an influential 20th-century concerto: Béla Bartók’s Third. Not only is he a prolific recording artist, he has also been the subject of several documentaries by the filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon. “Piotr Anderszewski plays Diabelli Variations” (2001) explores Anderszewski's particular relationship with Beethoven's iconic work. “Unquiet Traveller” (2008) is an unusual artist portrait, capturing Anderszewski's reflections on music, performance, and his Polish-Hungarian roots.
In person, pianist Kirill Gerstein might come off as understated, but at the keyboard, his presence cannot be ignored. The SLSO has a special relationship with the Russian-born pianist, collaborating on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Piano Concerto in F on The Gershwin Moment, a 2018 album released by Myrios Classics to critical acclaim. Appearing as recently as October 2021 performing the Thomas Adès Piano Concerto, Gerstein returns on October 15-16, 2022, with conductor Hannu Lintu in performances of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a ravishing work with a deeply emotional core.
A living legend, pianist Hélène Grimaud made her one and only performance with the SLSO in 2003. In the 22/23 season, she’s back and will collaborate with Music Director Stéphane Denève on Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, a marathon of a concerto requiring not only incredible technique, but also a good deal of stamina. Grimaud intimately knows this concerto; her recording of it with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra was released in 2013. Grimaud is a prolific recorder of much of the piano concerto repertoire: works by Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Schumann, and Gershwin. But these aren’t your typical recordings or performances. Grimaud is noted for her unique interpretations and adventurous phrasings that make a familiar work seem brand new. Mark your calendar to hear her January 21-22, 2023.
Of all the pianists featured in the 22/23 season, none may be as familiar to St. Louis audiences as Peter Henderson. A frequent SLSO guest musician and lecturer during the SLSO’s Pre-Concert Conversations, Henderson is an Associate Professor of Music and Artist-in-Residence at Maryville University, where he has been a faculty member since 2005. In January and February 2016, Henderson was the piano soloist in the SLSO subscription and California tour performances of Oliver Messiaen's Des Canyons aux étoiles. On March 3-4, 2023, Henderson is featured in an entirely different piece: Joseph Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto No. 11, Hob. XVIII—performances led by Assistant Conductor Stephanie Childress.
Stephen Hough is another well-known artist to St. Louisans. Making his SLSO debut in 1994, Hough has maintained regular appearances with the orchestra since. He has brought his interpretations of Rachmaninoff’s piano repertoire to St. Louis often, performing each of the composer’s first three piano concerti on two separate visits to the SLSO. On October 28-29, 2022, Hough—whose technique is described as “invincible”—will bring a different Russian concerto to St. Louis: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s remarkable First Piano Concerto which finds “the melancholy and the bright and lyrical and soaring.”
“Each facet of her talent belies her age: the pianist Marie-Ange Nguci offers a jewel where virtuosity rhymes with musicality and inventiveness.” Strong words of praise from Classica Magazine for the young pianist Marie-Ange Nguci, who not only makes her SLSO debut on November 26-27, 2022, but also makes her North American orchestral debut. She brings her many talents to St. Louis (she speaks seven languages!) for performances of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which celebrates the virtuosity and playfulness of Italian composer Niccolò Paganini, led by conductor Xian Zhang.
Pianist Vïkingur Ólafsson has been taking the classical music world by storm. In the past few years, he’s performed with most leading orchestras and has an equally impressive recording resume. His taste for challenges saw lauded recordings by works of W.A. Mozart, Philip Glass, C.P.E. Bach, Joseph Haydn, Claude Debussy, and more. In 2019, he was named the Gramophone Magazine Artist of the Year. When he debuted with the SLSO in 2021, KDHX said his playing “was a model of clarity.” In a short time, he endeared himself to St. Louis audiences. He returns to collaborate with Denève on W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 on March 16, 2023.
Alice Sara Ott
German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott continues her ascent as one of the most in-demand young artists of today. She is a constant presence in the concert halls of Europe and made her Berlin Philharmonic debut performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Ott, making her SLSO debut in the 22/23 season, brings that dazzling concerto to performances with the SLSO and conductor Cristian Măcelaru on January 14, 2023.
Lise de la Salle
Pianist Lise de la Salle makes her SLSO debut with Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which combines beautiful lyrical themes with exquisitely crafted virtuoso passages. A native of France, de la Salle first came to international attention in 2005, at the age of 16, with a Bach/Liszt recording that Gramophone Magazine selected as “Recording of the Month.” Since then, she’s been unstoppable: performing with the greatest orchestras in the world under the most accomplished conductors. Join your SLSO April 15-15, 2023, to experience her performing Chopin with your SLSO and Assistant Conductor Stephanie Childress.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Manager.