REVIEWS

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Steinway Series” is designed to showcase its lovingly restored Steinway concert grand... At the Lysander Piano Trio’s Sunday recital — the latest installment in that series — the pianist, Liza Stepanova, could not have played more eloquently to this instrument’s richly voiced strengths, balancing crystal-clear articulation, rock-solid authority and a very Russian sense of rhapsody in her phrasing... It’s not often that a chamber performance makes a listener long to hear all the ensemble members in the big-concerto repertoire, but this one certainly did. read more...

Joe Banno for The Washington Post, July 12, 2016

Stepanova took the stage solo for the next piece, Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”…Between its length and the demands it makes on a performer, this is a virtuosic composition and Stepanova gave it a bravura performance, sensitive in such atmospheric sections as “Catacombs,” displaying wonderful clarity in such rapid and complicate passages as “The Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells” and almost indescribably forceful in the finale. It was a magnificent display that justifiably brought the pianist a standing ovation that called her back for three bows. read more…

Harry H. Long for The Daily News, Flipside PA, July 17, 2014

Flawless technique from Stepanova set the scene for the underlying arpeggios of movement one [of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor]. A ravishing andante second movement opened with its simple melody embraced by all. The scherzo was on target from measure one with incredible precision. Every turn, every tempo change was extremely well planned in the work’s finale. Again, Stepanova’s fingering was phenomenal, and the 100 or so patrons offered immediate standing applause. Mendelssohn would have loved the way the Lysander Piano Trio played it. read more…

John Cutler, Lincoln Journal Star, May 30, 2014

Ms. Stepanova, who demonstrated technical assurance and thoughtful musicality throughout the program, played with a limpid touch in the opening of Schubert’s Adagio in E flat (“Notturno”) and fleet-fingered panache in John Musto’s colorful, rhythmically vivid and energetic Piano Trio (1998). read more…

Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, April 9, 2014

Thursday night’s sold-out Carnegie Hall concert by the Lysander Piano Trio… served as a vivid platform for pianist Liza Stepanova’s stunniningly nuanced sense of touch and ability to bring a composer’s emotional content to life. Even by rigorous conservatory standards, she’s something special. With an attack that ranged from a knife’s-edge, lovestruck determination throughout Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 8, to a lushly nocturnal sostenuto glimmer on Schubert’s Adagio in E Flat, Op. 148, she caressed the keys, but also let them grow fangs when the music called for it. It is not often when a pianist’s most stunning moments are her quietest: that Stepanova pulled off that feat amidst all sorts of stormy virtuosity speaks to her technical skill, but more to her ability to use that skill to channel the innermost substance of a diverse array of material from across the ages. read more…

Lucid Culture, NYC, April 3, 2014

The soprano Laura Strickling brought a flexible voice, crystalline diction and warm presence to Libby Larsen’s poignant “Songs From Letters” (1989), set to selections from notes that the notorious frontierswoman Calamity Jane wrote to her daughter, Jane, but never sent. With spare, angular vocal lines and accompaniment (provided sensitively by the pianist Liza Stepanova), the songs shift with swift effectiveness from anger to tenderness and back again.

New York Times

 

On Friday (31/8), the Mozart Quartet Berlin and pianist Liza Stepanova performed Chopin’s piano concerti in a chamber music arrangement at the Salzburger Schlosskonzerte [concert series] in the Marble Hall [of the Mirabell Palace]. The undertaking in itself to perform both Chopin concerti in one evening testifies to great technical sovereignty, as these works demand a lot from a pianist. The performer who then also possesses the ability to produce a warm, expressive sound, to explore the whole gamut from fortissimo to pianissimo and does not swallow even the finest ornaments, has come very far as a pianist. Both second movements deserve special mention. Here the interpreter may not be led into temptation to exaggerate the enamored atmosphere too pompously, with too much rubato: the music speaks for itself. Not yielding to this temptation is yet further evidence to the musical maturity of the young pianist. This evening was an encounter with artists one would like to hear again.

Drehpunkt Kultur Salzburg

 

At the opening of the new summer festival Hamburg Days of Classical Music on Wednesday we could hear the Belarussian pianist Liza Stepanova with such piano concerti in a chamber music version. The temperament and musicality of the young musician studying at the Juilliard School were remarkable.

Die Welt, Hamburg

 

The soloist Liza Stepanova plays a beautiful Mozart without makeup and in Chopin she knows exactly how to win her audience. A musician one would like to hear in a solo recital.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

 

Classics in Princely Ambience

Liza Stepanova played the piano concerto in F major KV 413 like a musical declaration of love to Mozart. She knows how to create an entire world with just a few notes. The great intensity of the cadenza in the Allegro impressed as much as the dreamy slow movement, in which she was searching for the composer with closed eyes.

One could play Chopins Variations on Mozarts’ “La ci darem la mano” as a harmless bit of salon music but it was not enough for Liza Stepanova. She explored the tragic dimensions of the Don Giovanni aria, the exalted feelings of an energetic free spirit. The wild sound cascades were ghostly and demonic. Also in the second piano concerto, she breathed, felt, and suffered with Chopin. She ignited brilliant fireworks of flying fingers, yet her rapid playing was never reduced to a virtuoso show. She played as if she knew a long-guarded secret behind Chopin’s work.

Berliner Morgenpost

 

Faculty and students tie in festival concert

…Closing the evening with another relatively unfamiliar composition, Cesar Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor, was perfect planning, sending the audience home with an exceptionally beautiful blend of piano and string tone singing in their ears.

Herald Tribune, Florida

 

Elegiac finesse

And so the listeners at the first big Chopin evening of the “Klassiktage” festival had once again the opportunity to admire Stepanova’s magic on the keys. Right at the start of the concert, in the Max-Joseph Hall of the Residenz [in Munich], which began with Chopin’s Rondo de Concert op.14, the pianist proved what her musical feeling allows her to express.  Her Chopin shimmered with thoughtful, elegiac finesse… [The Mozart Quartet] accompanied competently in the Grand Polonaise brillante op.22 and in the Concerto in E Minor, op.11. The soloist Stepanova, meanwhile, demonstrated impressive stamina on a high technical and musical level.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

 

Liza Stepanova, already familiar to the audience from the previous concert, performed another Prelude by Debussy and the devilishly difficult etude de concert “Feux follets” by Franz Liszt, translated as “Will o’ the Wisp”. In spite of the ludicrous technical difficulties of the piece, the scintillating atmosphere that makes for all of its charm emerged under Stepanova’s hands.

Murrhardter Zeitung

 

Magnificentinterpretations of Mozart

The regular members of the audience were already familiar with it and the newcomers will have noticed it immediately: this 22 year-old pianist’s distinctive feeling for sound.  Even in those seemingly harmless early works of Mozart she managed to produce musical sparks and fill them with interpretative ingenuity… With accuracy and superior interpretative force she met the humor and the rhythmical subtleties of the work, and thus again, the exceptional skill of this artist was revealed… [A] solemn and profound movement in B flat major [of the Sonata KV 533/494] reached a high level of expression and unbelievable density under Stepanova’s hands … For the encore, the listeners were enchanted by the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”  – however, in spite of its elusive character, this recital will remain in memory as one of the highlights of this ambitious series.

Lindauer Zeitung

 

Mozart to perfection

Liza Stepanova played with brilliance, dedication [and] spectacular finger dexterity.  [She is] an artist with a very special talent, a pleasure that no one who loves Mozart should miss.

Augsburger Allgemeine

 

Daniel Barenboim gives a Masterclass with Beethoven Sonatas

His comment is brief. But it could well echo for a long time in the ears of the young woman. “Bravo”, Mr. Honorary Senator says with a mild smile. He repeats it, followed by a polite request: might she, after such accomplished achievement, play more?  Perhaps now she might play the second movement of the Sonata op.7, the “Largo, con gran espressione” in C major? The wish is respected with utter concentration, visible talent…

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung