French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has attracted critical acclaim throughout Europe,Asia, and the United States, not least for exploring his interpretative voice across a broad repertoire rather than choosing to specialise in a particular style. The Times, describing his playing as “ever immaculate, ever imaginative”, has identified a “combination of total spontaneity and meditated ripeness that only great pianists have”.
His close identification with the works of Beethoven has been consolidated with complete sonata cycles at London’s Wigmore Hall, Toronto’s Ford Center, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and the Sala Grande del Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. Die Welt described his Berlin performances “possibly the finest Beethoven since the times of Wilhelm Kempff.” In his native Montreal, as both pianist and conductor, he has performed all five Beethoven piano concertos and the complete Mozart piano concertos with the city’s symphony orchestra.
Highlights of the 2009/2010 season included performances with: the BBC Philharmonic with Yutaka Sado; the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with Tortelier; a tour of the US with the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Riccardo Chailly; the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with Pinkas Steinberg; the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Heinz Holliger; the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on a Spanish tour under Thierry Fischer, who also conducted Lortie with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra with Kenneth Montgomery. Directing from the piano Lortie also performed with the Sinfonia Cracovia at the 14th Beethoven Festival in Warsaw.
Future engagements include dates with the Utah Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Washington National Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestras where he will play and conduct. In Europe he will perform with the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Kurt Masur, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard, the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Antoni Wit where he will perform Tchaikovsky’s First, Second and Third Piano Concertos.
His recital schedule features the Vienna Konzerthaus,London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall (International Piano Series and International Chamber Music Season), Aldeburgh Festival, Milan Serate Musicali, 14th Beethoven Festival in Warsaw, Festival Pianistico Internazionale Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli di Brescia eBergamo,Valencia and Bilbao, as well as his debut at Teatro alla Scala,Milanin December 2010.
Louis Lortie has made over 30 recordings for the Chandos label, covering repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky. His Edison Award-winning recording of Beethoven’s Eroica Variations was described by Gramophone as “spacious and magisterial, virile yet sensitive,” while his disc of Schumann (including Bunte Blätter) and Brahms was judged one of the BBC Music Magazine’s best CDs of the year; the magazine also named his Chopin Etudes one of “50 Recordings by Superlative Pianists” and his interpretation of Liszt’s complete works for piano and orchestra with the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice. Other titles include ‘To the Distant Beloved’ (works by Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt), and Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In May 2010 Chandos released the first volume of a new Chopin series, while Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage and a disc of the composer’s transcriptions are planned for 2011. For the Canadian label ATMA Classique Lortie has recorded Mendelssohn concertos with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and, on the conductor’s podium, the same composer’s ‘Reformation’ Symphony.
Louis Lortie studied in Montréal with Yvonne Hubert (a pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot), in Vienna with the Beethoven specialist Dieter Weber, and subsequently with Schnabel disciple Leon Fleisher. He made his debut with the Montréal Symphony at the age of thirteen, while three years later his first appearance with the Toronto Symphony led to an historic tour of the People’s Republic of China and Japan. In 1984, he won First Prize in the Busoni Competition and was also prizewinner at the Leeds Competition. In 1992 he was named Officer of the Order of Canada, and received both the Order of Quebec and an honorary doctorate from Laval University. Lortie has lived in Berlin since 1997 but also keeps a home in Canada.