Sonya Lifschitz’s collaboration with composer Robert Davidson, is a recital like no other, deftly synching virtuoso piano with texts from iconic creative and political figures like Bertolt Brecht, Goebbels, JFK, Ai Wei Wei, Stalin, Sontag, Gillard and Trump, Stalin’s Piano is a captivating – at times devastating, at times tender and humorous – tour de force weaving music, archival video footage and the performer’s own speaking voice to explore big themes in modern history. Praised by the New York Times and The Age for her “dynamic” and “powerful” performances, Ukranian-born pianist Sonya Lifschitz is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative and fiercely creative musical voices. Of her recent performance of Stalin’s Piano at the Brisbane Festival a critic wrote: “Lifschitz was a life-force of extraordinary density and capacity”.
In 1953 Joseph Stalin died in his bed. Found spinning on his record player was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, a recording of the often banned and exiled Russian pianist Maria Yudina. A formidable, outspoken champion of new music and artistic freedom Yudina was famed for her vehement defiance of Stalin’s tyranny. Whilst so many of her fellow artists ‘disappeared’ or were purged by the KGB, Yudina outlasted Stalin and lived to tell her story.
Join the equally fearless and fierce pianist Sonya Lifschitz, as she fires up Australian composer Robert Davidson’s electrifying new work Stalin’s Piano. Conceived with and for the Ukranian-born virtuoso, Lifschitz deftly syncs Davidson’s collection of rousing compositions with the pulsing texts from history-shaping speeches and interviews, taking us into the heart of the ever-simmering conflict between state and individual with contributions from people as diverse as Goebbels, Ai Wei Wei, Jackson Pollock, Whitlam, Judith Wright, Frank Lloyd-Wright, Stalin and Yudina herself.
A collection of vignettes, this 60-minute audio-visual epic, weaves together virtuoso piano music, the recorded voices of iconic creative and political figures, archival video footage and Sonya’s spoken voice. Starting with Bertholt Brecht as he faces the House of Un-American Activities Commission and continuing through a diverse range of artists and politicians, Stalin’s Piano creates a devastating and captivating exploration of the big themes of modern history.
“If you think piano recitals are dead, go and see ‘Stalin’s Piano’: Robert Davidson’s audio-visual epic of ten fingers against the inexorable sweep of history.”
Roland Peelman – Artistic Director Canberra International Music Festival