Olga Kern nails Rachmaninoff, plays his 3rd concerto as Rachmaninoff himself would have done

Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a third classical music concert in five days. And this one was by far the best. Fabulous, fantastic, phenomenal…. were just some of the attributes that came to mind after we spent 43 minutes mesmerized by the young Russian pianist Olga Kern’s interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #3.

In fact, I would venture to say that this was probably the best live piano performance I have ever heard. Which is saying a lot since I have attended hundreds of concerts in my lifetime. Elizabeth was similarly moved both by Olga Kern and the earlier Arizona Musicfest symphony orchestra’s interpretation of Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No 5 E flat major.

“It was the most beautiful concert we have ever gone to,” she said. “And we have been to concerts all over the world.”

She added that the Jeffrey Siegel’s piano concert on Tuesday night at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts “seems like child’s play in comparison.”

Siegel played Bach and Chopin. “He talked more than he played,” I replied, only half in jest (see Siegel).

The rest of the audience reacted the same way.  The crowd have Olga Kern and the orchestra a standing ovation that went on for more than five minutes and three or four curtain calls (spoken figuratively – since the concert took place in a large church, there was no curtain, only a raised stage).

Olga Kern, is a striking young Russian Gold Medal winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition whose performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 made her the first woman to achieve this distinction in over 30 years.

Here are some of the pictures we took…

Here’ a “Behind the Scene” video of Olga Kern rehearsing with Pacific Symphony:

Here’s also that “Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 by Kurt Sanderling, Berlin Symphony Orchestra with a younger Olga Kern  on the piano – Dec 2012:


Olga Kern was born in Moscow on Apr 23, 1975 into a family of musicians. Her parents are both pianists, and she is related to the Russian socialite and memoirist Anna Petrovna Kern. Her great-grandmother was the mezzo-soprano Vera Pushechnikova who performed with Rachmaninoff.

Olga Kern began studying piano at age five with Professor Evgeny Timakin at the Central Music School of Moscow and gave her first concert at age seven in the same city. She won her first international competition, the Concertino Praga Competition, at age 11 in the Czech Republic. At 17, she won first prize at the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition. While in school, she received an honorary scholarship from the President of Russia n 1996.

Kern performs all over the world but makes her ostensible home in New York. Her son, also a budding pianist, was a student of The Juilliard School of Music, Pre-College Division. Since September 2016 he is a student of Academia Pianistica Internazionale “Incontri col Maestro” di Imola – Class of Professor B. Petrushansky. In 2012, he got the prestigious Van Cliburn scholarship, first time in the history of The Juilliard School, Pre-College Division.

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Finally, here’s also that Sibelius symphony that both Elizabeth and I enjoyed very much last night.





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