This is the ECM New Series debut for the exceptional pianist Lisa Smirnova, playing Händel s Eight Great Suites (1720), also known as The Eight London Suites or Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin by any name, major pieces in the keyboard literature. The 1720 edition of suites MWV 426-433 is considered by many the most important collection of Händel s early works. Published by the composer himself, it includes works from both his Hamburg and English periods, all extensively revised by the composer, right through the printing process. Outstanding artists from Glenn Gould to Keith Jarrett have been drawn to Händel s suites of 1720, but there are very few recordings of all eight, either on piano or harpsichord, currently on the market. Smirnova (born 1972, in Moscow, currently living in Austria) opts for the modern piano. She had been working rigorously on the 8 Great Suites for five years prior to undertaking this recording, making many discoveries. Educated at Moscow s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and with additional studies with Maria Curcio and Robert Levin, Smirnova burst onto the classical scene in 1992 with a well-received debut at Carnegie Hall when she was only 20. This was followed by a successful tour of Japan and the beginning of a long relationship with the Far East since 2007 she has been Artistic Director of the Nagasaki-Ojika International Music Festival. In 1993, she received the Brahms Prize at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the first pianist ever to be honoured with this award, and her concert activities have extended to international concert podia in Europe, Asia and the USA.
Smirnova s repertoire extends across the centuries she has collaborated with contemporary composers including Kancheli, Silvestrov and Rihm, and won international awards for her recordings of Bach on MDG. Other widely-praised recordings include her account of Bloch s works for viola and piano with Daniel Raiskin, on BMG/Arte Nova.
She performs with great sensitivity and poise and subtle differentiation. --The Guardian