Peter Frankl

Pianist

 

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Hungarian-born Peter Frankl is one of the world's outstanding pianists. Recognized as a major artist of his generation, he has a long-standing international career which has taken him to more than fifty countries as a recitalist, a chamber musician, and as a soloist with the world’s great conductors. Among them, to name but a few: Abbado, Ashkenazy, Haitink, Boulez, Solti, Chailly, Masur, Dohnanyi, Maazel, Fruhbeck de Burgos and Tilson-Thomas. From highly acclaimed performances in recitals and with the world’s finest orchestras, Peter Frankl’s playing combines romanticism and inspiration with vivacity and color. A highly versatile performer, his repertoire ranges extensively from classics to contemporary music. In honor of his 70th birthday in October 2005 he was awarded the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Republic for his outstanding performances throughout the world. In 2006 he was named “Honorary Professor” of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and was awarded the “Distinguished Visitors Medal” from the University of Toronto. A series of international concerts honored Peter Frankl’s 75th Birthday in 2010 and in 2015 for his 80th Borthday, ranging from Hong Kong to Budapest and the United States. Yale University celebrated both occasions with numerous concerts presenting Peter Frankl with illustrious colleagues.

Since his London debut, Peter Frankl has performed with all of the major British orchestras. He has been a stalwart of the BBC Promenade Concerts, with more than 20 appearances. He has performed with the most renowned orchestras of Europe and North America. He made his New York debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Concertgebouworkest, Leipzig Gewandhaus, and the Israel Philharmonic, as well as prominent orchestras in Australia and Asia.

Mr. Frankl has been a regular performer at renowned festivals throughout the world, including the Edinburgh, Cheltenham and Aldeburgh festivals in the United Kingdom. Among the highlights of numerous Edinburgh Festival appearances were his performances of the Britten Concerto under the baton of the composer, and the televised opening concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Muti. He has been a regular guest artist at the summer festivals of Verbier, Casals (Prades, France), Kuhmo, Aspen, Marlboro, and Ravinia, among many others; and an annual performer at the Norfolks Chamber Music Festival and Yellow Barn. He made his debut at the Great Mountains Festival in Korea in Summer 2012 and that fall celebrated his 100th performance of Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the Great Mountains Fetsival in 2014.

A noted chamber musician, Frankl collaborates regularly with renowned soloists and ensembles for concerts and recordings, working with such artists as Ralph Kirshbaum, Kyung Wha Chung, Tamas Vasary, and Andras Schiff, and with the Bartok, Tokyo, Guarnieri, Lindsay, Borodin, Fine Arts, American, Amadeus, and the Vermeer Quartets.

Peter Frankl has an extensive catalog of recordings ranging from the complete works for piano of Schumann and Debussy to chamber music and concerti. Recent recordings include a solo Bartok album (Record of the Month - CD Review), Brahms and Schumann Piano Quintets with the Lindsay String Quartet (Best of the Year - Sunday Times), a solo Chopin album, Brahms violin/piano sonatas with Kyung Wha Chung, Brahms Piano concerti, Bartok Rhapsodies with Peter Csaba, Mozart Piano Concerti ‘a quattro,’ complete piano duets with Tamas Vasary, all released to critical acclaim. In 2015 Nimbus recorded Schubert, Beethoven and Schumann with flutist Ransom Wilson.

 

PRESS COMMENTS


Recitals and chamber music:

Headline: “Peter Frankl Spellbinding at the Academy of Music”
“Tirelessly he played all five of Beethoven's piano / cello sonatas with Stephen Várdai, the young,already world-famous cellist. Five pieces in a single evening. A stream of crystalline clarity spoke from the piano. The two instruments in a loving interplay of chamber music completely changing the stereotypical image. This evening, a magic carpet spirited a student of nature through the landscape of the soul. It was all I could wish for. Here in the great hall of the Academy of Music appears a very nice, humble man at the piano. But as he played, he was strong, dramatic, masculine and youthful. Before us, as our ears heard, music has no age. On paper, there is a fifty-year age difference. In concert, one cannot tell which is younger.”
- Infovilág - February 6, 2015

Theatre Champs Elysees, Paris:
“In advance of the sixtieth anniversary of the Casals Festival, a concert was presented bringing together some of the best chamber musicians of our time. The pianist Peter Frankl (former student of Zoltán Kodály and First Prize in the Long-Thibaud Competition in 1957) is a great artist that we have had little opportunity to hear in Paris. Along with Hagai Shaham and Dan Zhu, Lise Berthaud and cellist Arto Noras, he is a partner who unifies the differences and keeps the dialogue moving in Schumann's Piano Quintet op. 44 uncovering its many layers. The work was recreated before our eyes with a life, a narrative sense of elegance and youthful romanticism (on the cello, the super sleek and flexible Arto Noras).”
- Concertclassic.com - February 24, 2012

Kaposvár International Chamber Music Festival (Hungary):
“Sunday belonged to pianist Peter Frankl. His keen collaborative radar, tonal capabilities, effortless finger power and sheer stamina function at full, youthful capacity. In Brahms G Minor Quartet he joyfully tossed off the wild finale’s giddy syncopations and scintillating, concerto-like passagework, and built the Franck Violin Sonata’s massive keyboard textures from the bottom up, enveloping the big tunes with more colors than I imagined could be coaxed from a most recalcitrant Steinway. Alfred Cortot’s old Franck Sonata recording with Jacques Thibaud came to mind. On Monday morning, Frankl sparkled again in Dohnanyi’s voluptuous C Major Sextet Op 37.”
- Gramophone Magazine - August 19, 2011

70th Birthday celebration concert, Yale University:
“What Frankl did was to offer us the Peter Frankl — warm, sensitive, generous — within the music of both composers. His attacks were positively diffuse — meticulously timed and balanced, yes, and not withholding passion or intensity, but gentle nevertheless, so that Bartók’s wild ‘Allegro barbaro’ seemed joyous rather than brutal, and Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 111 unfolded as a great, expansive arc of pure aural pleasure. Frankl’s own pleasure was evident: he gave a confidential smile whenever he reached an especially witty passage of music, as if letting us in on a private joke between himself and the composers.”
- New Haven Advocate - February 15, 2011

Casals Festival, Prades, France:
“Another choice trio with Peter Frankl, Mihaela Martin and Arto Noras joyously investigated the very creativity of this score.”
- ResMusica.com – September 7, 2010

New Britain Symphony:
Headline: “Moving Tribute Concert”
“After intermission, Peter Frankl joined the orchestra as piano soloist in the famous concerto in F minor by Bach. He brought irrepressible joy to the performance.”
- The Courant - November 24, 2009

“Hungarian-born pianist Peter Frankl closed the season with a remarkable program centering on Robert Schumann’s ‘Fantaisiestücke.’ A complicated, challenging work, it provided an opportunity for the pianist to exhibit a range of expressiveness that was absolutely astonishing. It's hard to imagine that the relatively simple act of striking a taut string with a hammer could result in such a range of tonal and rhythmic variety. It was the kind of revelatory performance which remains with a listener for a long time indeed. Richly nuanced selections by Chopin consisted of the Andante spianato et Grand Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22, two Nocturnes, and, as encores, a Polonaise and a Mazurka. All of these pieces as well as the opener, gave exceptional musical pleasure under Frankl’s hands.”
- The Morning Call - April 11, 2009

Recital at Yale University:
Headline: “A Melancholy, Contemplative Recital From Frankl”
“Peter Frankl held the final E-flat minor chord with his hands motionless on the keyboard. All of the sound drained from the Horowitz piano. Still his hands were motionless. Sprague Memorial Hall was motionless. Then, almost 10 seconds later, with a quick, fluid gesture, his hands slipped into his lap in a curved motion that followed the contour of the piano. Applause. But it was a stunned applause, one that might have preferred to remain in silent awe if we had less firmly ingrained conventions. His encore, the Nocturne in D-flat major Op. 27 No. 1, left us quiet and contemplative, an effective ending to a recital cast in somber tones.”
- The Courant - September 1, 2008

Recital at Yale University:
"Peter Frankl's recital, part of the Horowitz Piano Series, had an unmistakably festive quality. He chose an array of music with bright vibrant colors and lively energy. Frankl opened with the Sonata No. 52 by Haydn. He took a fast tempo - gauged on the playful secondary theme rather than the austere and formal dotted rhythms of the beginning of the work. He made the key of the second movement, E major, seem linked to that magical moment in the development of the first, and used the double dotted rhythms that characterize the musical surface of the adagio as a kind of combustion to create power in an otherwise lyrical soundscape. It was a feisty performance that revealed aspects of the work often left unvoiced. This was a piano recital for the socially inclined. It was festive, fun, and packed full of extraordinary musicianship."
- New Haven Courant - January 21, 2008

“How did Mr. Schiff achieve this quantum leap in artistic growth? As a young man he studied at Budapest's Ferenc Liszt Academy, a fabled conservatory which has produced a series of warm- toned, humane pianists including Annie Fischer, Peter Frankl, and the current up-and-coming young performer Klara Wurtz.”
- New York Sun - November 22, 2007

Shostakovich Quintet with the Vermeer Quartet, Syracuse, New York:
“Frankl played with panache. This was a delightful performance of a work that deserves to be played more often.”
- Syracuse Post Standard – October 9, 2005

Dohnanyi Quintet No. 1 with the Bartok Quartet, Washington, DC:
“Peter Frankl handled his part with confidence and sensitivity. He reined in the tempo during the first movement on the few occasions that the string quartet showed signs of edging ahead and provided balladlike accompaniment for the beautiful string features in the third movement.”
- Washington Post - March 3, 2005

Recital, Houston International Piano Festival
“Peter Frankl is an exciting pianist with a real ‘voice.’ His performances of Schubert and Bartok were highlights of our piano festival. As a teacher and human being, Frankl was exemplary.”
- Alan Austin, Arts Presenters Reports - April 2004

Recital with cellist Ralph Kirshbaum:
Headline: “Cello-piano pairing super”
“Peter Frankl played with a full tone on a small grand piano with the lid fully raised. The duo's interpretations were as large-scale as their sound. They played Beethoven's Sonata No. 4 with rapturous romanticism and unanimity of style. Chopin's Sonata in G minor was also a lavish outpouring. Playing in the grand manner, the artists let the music surge. The work was beautifully shaped and shaded. In Prokofiev's Sonata in C Major the musicians pushed beyond the majesty they brought to the 19th-century works. The artists stuck to substantial repertoire, concluding with a grandiose interpretation of Schumann's Adagio and Allegro. The recital drew an enthusiastic audience that brought the performers back for two encores. Like luscious after-dinner mints, the little delicacies were the perfect ending to a rich musical feast.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer - February 5, 2004

Recital with Ralph Kirshbaum in Pittsburgh:
“Recitals wouldn't be the most troubled form of classical concert if they typically had the combination of emotional directness, virtuosity, intelligence and sophistication cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist Peter Frankl brought to the Y Music Society. Kirshbaum's rich, strong and focused tone was superbly balanced with Frankl's piano playing. A pianist himself, Beethoven would surely have admired the assertive way Frankl played."
- Pittsburgh Tribune - November 21, 2003

Recital , Kum-Ho Center, Seoul, Korea:
“Peter Frankl, though unfamiliar in Korea is an active pianist in major concert halls of the world. His playing shows purity and maturity from his experience as a concert pianist. His interpretation was filled with humor and personality. (Chopin’s) Four Impromptus had the feel of improvisations, with beautiful tone and steady technique. The second half was splendidly performed, gully of lyricism and notable melody. There were three encores for the enthusiastic audience. Frankl was not a mere pianist, but a true artist. His musical world appears in a deep place that only maters can reach.”
- Auditorium - June 6, 2003

Performance with the Fine Arts Quartet, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee:
“The Fine Arts Quartet was joined by pianist Peter Frankl for an afternoon of marvelous music making. Frankl took the stage alone for the remainder of the program’s first half. Had Frankl not become a pianist, he would surely have been a storyteller. He delivered each piece of music as though he were telling a fascinating tale, capturing the audience’s imagination with the first notes of each piece and not letting go until the final notes had died away. In his hands the Kodaly pieces were masterpieces of colorful, nuanced playing. Every detail, to the simplest repeated notes or chords, had unmistakable direction and purpose. Frankl delivered Weiner’s Dances with a gentle good humor and a bright, sparkling sound. He answered enthusiastic applause with a captivating Bartok dance. Frankl and the Quartet made Dohnanyi’s melodies sing. The musicians played with obvious delight, leading the movement to a thunderous close. Somehow that just added to the excitement and musical power of the final chords.”
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – October 8, 2002

Recital with Ralph Kirshbaum, 92nd Street Y, New York City:
“Kirshbaum and Frankl have been playing together for many years, and their experience showed wonderfully. The two musicians were completely sure of where they were going, at all times, completely together, and completely aware. As a result, the performances were highly musical braidings. Mr. Frankl's lucid sound still conveying something of the Hungarian school, was as important as Mr. Kirshbaum's appealing grainy songfulness with elegant phrasing, tight focus and a wide range of color.”
- New York Times - April 20, 2002

Recital with Ralph Kirshbaum, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London:
“Kirshbaum and Frankl made both solemn and light of Beethoven's tricky pieces, which can so easily become pedestrian in lesser hands. In each, the variation in the minor, the emotional heart, took the breath away with playing of such sincerity. Peter Frankl's lightness of touch, intelligence of phrasing and loving involvement was a sheer joy.”
- The Independent - January 30, 2002

All-Schumann recital, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX:
“Frankl, an enduring artist with decades on the world stage, proved just how rewarding such an event can be. Frankl demonstrated an ability to create the aura of orchestral sound that was Schumann's ideal, as well as an intense, personal identification with Schumann's chameleon changes of mood. Frankl continued his successful condensed survey with the same impeccable tone, technique and taste that had carried him through the entire recital.”
- Star-Telegram - June 26, 2000

All-Schubert Program, Liederhalle, Stuttgart
“After these ‘Biedermeir pearls’ followed a meatier section which demonstrated the importance to appreciate Schubert as more than just a master of art song. Pianist Peter Frankl presented an exciting interpretation of the ‘Wanderer Fantasie.’ He articulated the twilight and diabolical with an ear for the refinement of Schubertian transitions, sense for the composition’s whole and bright transparency. Frankl delivered an unforced ‘Wanderer.’ The pianist let the melodic voices sing lyrically and exquisitely.”
- Stuttgarter Zeitung - February 5, 1997

Recital with Kyung-Wha Chung, Carnegie Hall:
“Mr. Frankl was a sympathetic accompanist, and more importantly an eloquent and poised solo presence in his own right. No sequence of solo sonatas in the literature shows less concern for rapid-fire pyrotechnics, and there are long passages when the music forgets about the violin altogether and entrusts itself to the piano.”
- New York Times - March 28, 1994

Performances with symphony orchestra:
Soloist with the Pannon Philharmonic, Budapest:
“In Schumann’s Piano Concerto, the public was able to greet an old friend: the soloist was Peter Frankl. It is worth appreciating not only the vitality of the London-based musician (who still travels the world tirelessly), but equally the obvious visible good condition, which showed in his technical abilities and the necessary stamina for performing this concerto. Frankl still possesses the clean, bright, crystal-like touch, which characterises his playing as instinctively extrovert. His communicative gift has always been an attractive distinction: while playing he often turns with his face, eyes, even body towards the audience and this body language shows his attitude in his entire music making. The first movement brought beautiful contrasts between tension and relaxation, the Intermezzo brought joy with intimate romantic chamber music-making and he presented the finale in its Florestanian, passionate way. Frankl’s playing had wide dynamic and colourful range. It is with enjoyment and admiration that I listened to this performance.”
- Muzsika - June 2013.

“The overall quality of their performance is very high, as demonstrated at their May 4th concert with a guest appearance by the great Peter Frankl and young conductor András Vass, a favorite of the public. There was an atmosphere of almost palpable tension that gave rise to the appearance of Peter Frankl that evening. As the superbly tailored, elegant artist appeared, a truly patrician calm came over him, leaving no shred of doubt of where Schumann's popular piano concerto would take us. With the passion of youthful risk and intensity, one could feel the body heat. That Frankl's technique is still impressive is an acknowledged fact, but more important are his fervor and eloquent pianism. Frankl's performance was absolutely beautiful.”
- Fidelio - May 7, 2013

Headline: “A starry start to the ECSO season”
“The orchestra opened its season with a stirring performance by a major star. Audience expectations ran high for piano soloist Peter Frankl and he did not disappoint. The Hungarian-born pianist embraced the score like an old friend. Frankl thrilled the audience with a sense of mastery, moments of intimacy and a full-body involvement with a vast musical monument.”
- The Day - October 21, 2012

Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy," New London Orchestra:
"Veteran Peter Frankl graced the stage for music-making of the best kind."
- Hampstead & Highgate Express - July 18, 2008

Beethoven Emperor Concerto, Tuscaloosa Symphony
Headline: “Glorious Beethoven opens TSO season” “The evening's soloist was the great Peter Frankl, remembered in these parts for his powerful account of the Brahms D Major Concerto last spring. Beethoven's operatic values were highlighted in the "Emperor" Concerto, renowned for its virtuoso demands on all the players involved. When there were moments when the TSO's instrumentalists did not exactly speak out in their various parts, Frankl kept the concerto's expression alive and well focused. This was the reading of a great collaborator assisting his colleagues in bringing things out. In the finest touches, as in the biggest gestures Frankl never failed to trace the music's contour. And in his hands, the concerto truly became what its name proclaims it to be - an ‘emperor.’ Frankl's emperor was also, and most interestingly, Mozartian. He gave us the figure of a fabulous figure who sings from his heart with majesty.”
- Tuscaloosa News - October 13, 2004

Schumann Concerto, Chautauqua Symphony:
“Peter Frankl's piano Tuesday evening played only the big words: beauty, dignity, tenderness. And his piano played silences that were heartbreaking. Surely there were the strong runs that make the passion of Schumann's wonderful concerto. But those gentle, syncopated moments that keep an audience waiting for a microsecond are the ones that take your breath away, and Frankl was the master of those moments. It was a joyful performance, a skilled and wonderful collaboration between pianist and orchestra that, while characterized by its exuberance, was known as well by its poise and restraint, Recognizing the gift of Frankl's performance, the audience leapt to its feet with congratulatory shouts. Uriel Segal and Frankl clasped hands and beamed with pleasure.”
- Chautauqua Daily, August 19, 2004

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, Louisville Orchestra, Uriel Segal, conductor:
“Frankl allowed the gentle poetry of the movement to emerge. The scampering finale ended up being the most successful component. Here, there was alert, rhythmically deft playing - the sense of intuitive musicianship that suggested what this concerto is all about.”
- Louisville Courrier-Journal - November 14, 2003

“There was sheer pleasure, as veteran pianist Peter Frankl delivered a typically relaxed account of Mozart's E flat Piano Concerto, K482. All focus was on Frankl and a performance that floated rather than swam, in which sheer affection and golden lyricism defined its character.”
- Scotsman – December 17, 2002

Mozart Piano Concerto in E-flat, K.482, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Glasgow:
“If ever a concert programme, by any orchestra in any season, demanded a thousand words, then it was the latest concert in the RSNO's winter season. This was one of the great RSNO programmes, living up to every expectation. There was Peter Frankl, playing Mozart's great Piano Concerto in E flat, K482. What do we say about this master musician? I defy anyone to produce a pianist with a more humanitarian approach to this music, someone who could more engagingly touch the spirit of Mozart. It was warm, lyrical, characterful, and supremely musical - enough to make you cry. Glorious programming.”
- The Herald – December 13, 2002

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra:
Headline: “CSO and Frankl play with gusto”
“Then came Frankl in a performance that was unfailingly interesting and never slipped into mere routine. Frankl is a pianist who seems to be listening intently to the orchestra even while playing himself. His playing was forthright, technically expert and full of personality. For me there are two magical moments in this piece. Both of these inspired moments were beautifully realized. Sure this was a concert of very familiar, standard works. But the performances were the kind that make them fresh again and remind us why they are so treasured.”
- Chautauquian Daily – August 3, 2002

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra:
“Peter Frankl, having already created a very deep impression with his wonderful playing of the First Concerto, was even more insightful and eloquent in the Second. Frankl’s obvious love for this music, his understanding of every affective element and his seemingly relaxed grasp of its Olympian technical demands, were all to be savored. The moments I found most engrossing were those magically textured, quietly poetic stanzas. The finale was a particular pleasure, the first time I can recall a reading that so clearly captured Brahms’ elusive humor and grace.”
- The Advertiser (Adelaide) – July 18, 2000

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra:
“Peter Frankl is a musician of real distinction. He had every nuance of this mighty work in his bones and all of his very considerable technique dedicated to purely and profoundly musical ends. His was a vintage performance, bardic and richly satisfying across its broad range and a particular delight in the vigorous finale.”
- The Advertiser (Adelaide) – July 14, 2000

Recordings:

“The Hungarian pianist Péter Frankl celebrates a late spring on these CDs. In solid cooperation with the Hungarian Radio Sinfonieorchester under the direction of his colleague Tamás Vásáry, he presents the difficult 2nd Brahms piano concerto, and for Aulos, with the Fine Arts Quartet, brings the newest version of the two piano quintets of Dohnányi into the catalog. Remembering Frankl's auspicious Vox recordings (Schumann!) and considering his forthright chamber music appearances, this Brahms-Edition may be a surprise. It represents a kind musical homecoming. Frankl demonstrates this with an understanding for a specific Brahms tone, that asserts itself in the difficult, passionate passages with attention to details. For friends and fans of the now 70-year-old Péter Frankl, these are surely a welcome gift.”
- Klassik Heute - January 31, 2006

Bartok Rhapsodies with Peter Csaba, violin:
“Do not miss this recording. In terms of musical importance, it is exceptionally valuable, for it contains the two Rhapsodies in a performance of the greatest commitment and communicative inspiration. On this disc, Csaba and Frankl are not only able fully to cope with Bartok's occasionally almost impossible demands, but also play as one - genuine chamber-musical playing, which is, of itself, inspiring and exciting to hear. Gertler's transcription of the 1915 solo piano Sonatina is uncommonly well done. This is surely a contender for a Grand Prix du Disque award.”
- International Record Guide - October 2003

“His interpretation is impressive for its virtuosity and its sense of poetry.”
- Le Monde de la Musique – July/August 2003

Brahms Violin Sonatas, with Kyung-Wha Chung:
“I am most fond of the performances on EMI by Kyung-Wha Chung and the perennially underrated Peter Frankl, not least because they relax into the music. Indeed, they even make one feel fond of the irascible old composer, which great though he was, is not always easy.”
- The Sunday Times (London) - June 25, 2002