Pianist Stephen Kovacevich

Houston Symphony Orchestra, and thereafter pursued a dual career as a pianist and conductor. From 1990 to 1993 he was music director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra in Dublin. He has won warm praise for his work with many of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra of EuropeLondon Mozart PlayersCity of Birmingham Symphony OrchestraRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic OrchestraUlster OrchestraGulbenkian OrchestraVancouver Symphony OrchestraAustralian Chamber Orchestra and Tapiola Sinfonietta. After his London conducting debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the Daily Telegraph critic Geoffrey Norris wrote: ‘...he brought precision and crispness combined with a full tone and galvanizing immediacy. The structure was unshakeable; these performances really made one sit up and take note.’ After an initial concentration on 18th-century music (especially W.A. Mozart), Kovacevich’s conducting repertoire has expanded to include 19th-century Romantic music, including the symphonies of L.v. BeethovenJ. Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and a memorable Sibelius Symphony No. 4. He has also played and directed from the keyboard, with orchestras as the London Mozart PlayersRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. During the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons he performed the entire L.v. Beethoven concertos and symphonies as conductor/soloist with the London Mozart Players.

Highlights of 2008-2009 season include concerto appearances with Yannick-Nézét-Séguin and 
Rotterdam Philharmonic OrchestraLawrence Foster and Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, a Play and Direct project with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and recitals in London, Houston, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Stephen Kovacevich is also a committed chamber musician. Chamber music partners include Jacqueline du Pré, 
Martha ArgerichSteven IsserlisNigel KennedyLynn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud CapuçonKyung-Wha Chung and Emmanuel Pahud. During the 2008-2009 season, he has a mini-residency of J. Brahms and B. Bartók chamber music at the Wigmore Hall. Other appearances include chamber recitals at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Vienna Musikverein.

Stephen Kovacevich has enjoyed two long-term relationships with recording companies, first Philips and then EMI. His concerto recordings for Philips, including 
L.v. BeethovenRobert Schumann and B. Bartók has long been a staple of the catalog. As an exclusive EMI artist, he recorded both J. Brahms Piano Concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Wolfgang Sawallisch; No 1 was Grammy-nominated and won the 1993 Gramophone Award and the Stereo Review Record of the Year, while No 2 won the Diapason d'Or. The other great projects with EMI was a compelling series of Schubert Sonatas and a set of the 32 L.v. Beethoven Sonatas completed in 2003, hailed as one of the most authoritative ever recorded. One critic described The Hammerklavier as: ‘an unflinching, sometimes combative view of a titanic masterpiece, and a version to be spoken of in the same breath as those of BrendelGilels, and Pollini... Kovacevich announces the music’s potency from the first bar.’ His subsequent CD release of Frédéric Chopin and Ravel won Choc du Monde de la Musique and Recompense Classica/Repertoire. Kovacevich has recently recorded L.v. Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations for Onyx Classics, exactly 40 years after his first recording of the work for Philips in 1968. The CD is coupled with J.S. Bach's Partita No. 4 (BWV 828), his first J.S. Bach recording and was released in January 2009.