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Top 10 living classical concert pianists?

Posted By: CLM Piano Learner

Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 06:46 PM

Does anyone have a link to a ranking (top 10, top 20, etc) of living classical pianists? I realize any list like this would be extremely subjective, but what ranking of artists isn’t? ;-) Most pianist rankings I find online include non-living pianists or they include other genres of music – pop artists, jazz, etc. I’m only looking for classical pianists.

Also, feel free to include your own ranking!
Posted By: Mark_C

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 07:06 PM

Here's my list.
It wasn't very hard to come up with it, although if other people mention some other pianists I might agree that they should come in before some of the ones I mentioned.

BTW: I mostly mean this just according to general reputation, not by my own judgment, except to the extent that judgment inevitably is involved in perceiving general reputations. smile

Nor do I mean that the ones who are higher are necessarily "better" than ones who are lower. I'm talking about general reputations, including how well-known they are (which gives 'points' to someone like Lang Lang).

To be clear: It's not just according to how well known they are. Like, if it were, Lupu wouldn't be nearly that high, and Lang Lang would be much higher.

1 Martha Argerich
2 Evgeny Kissin
3 Alfred Brendel
4 Radu Lupu
5 Mauricio Pollini
6 Emanuel Ax
7 Mitsuko Uchida
8 Richard Goode
9 Lang Lang
10 Andras Schiff

edit: With the benefit of Who's list, I'd add Perahia (at #6) and move the others down a slot.

BTW, main difference between his list and mine, I think:
He's going younger, I'm going older.

.....and seeing the later posts:

I would definitely sneak Hamelin and Sokolov into the top 10.
Which would seem to leave out Lang Lang.

No can do. That would be ignoring "noted-ness."
On the other hand I can't see bumping any of those others out of the top 10.....some would feel OK bumping Uchida and/or Goode. I wouldn't.
Posted By: WhoDwaldi

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 07:07 PM

No particular order:

Pollini
Zimerman
Andsnes
Perahia
Brendel
Argerich
Trifonov
Grosvenor
Kissin
Pletnev

Apologies to anybody mispelled, dead, or a little too young (for such an accolade). ha
Posted By: 17curleyj

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 08:08 PM

Here's my list (not in order):

-Marc Andre Hamelin
-Sergei Babayan
-Daniil Trifonov
-Maurizio Pollini
-Krystian Zimerman
-Martha Argerich
-Murray Perahia
-Mitsuko Uchida
-Evgeny Kissin
-Stephen Hough

Though, I think if I were to make a list of the 10 greatest living pianists in terms of technique, my list would be quite different.
Posted By: wr

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 09:00 PM

Only ten? Oh, well, here's a list of that many, culled pretty randomly from a much larger, unranked group of names that come to mind when I think of classical pianists who I think are usually worth hearing (and that's about as far as I want to go with the ranking and rating thing) -

Uchida
Aimard
Goode
Pletnev
Haefliger
Freire
Osborne
Serkin
Ax
Lupu
Posted By: wr

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 09:19 PM

Of course, as soon as I had posted a list of ten, I thought of ten more that could just as easily have been on my first list -

Argerich
Ohlsson
Denk
Sokolov
Sudbin
Zimerman
Levit
Andsnes
Mustonen
Bavouzet
Posted By: XenondiFluoride

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 09:39 PM

Hamelin
I am not sure of the others, they all have their areas where they shine, but I have to put Hamelin first, his technique is fantastic, and he never shies away from performing something totally unheard of, and when he does, I have never ran across a recording where I felt it was a bad interpretation.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 09:48 PM

I dislike the designation "Top 10" (reminds me of pop charts.....). Therefore my list is of the ten pianists I'd make an effort to go to listen, live in concert:

Mikhail Pletnev
Krystian Zimerman
Lang Lang
Benjamin Grosvenor
Maurizio Pollini
Martha Argerich
Grigory Sokolov
Daniil Trifonov
Andrei Gavrilov
Sergio Tiempo

What they have in common is that their playing styles are all individualistic and immediately recognizable, and they are all great technicians. Boring Urtext pianists and technicians with no individuality don't get into my list.

I want to hear music (great or not-so-great) played with great panache, as well as poetry and plenty of dazzle where appropriate. I really don't care if they cross all the t's or dot all the i's or observe all the markings that are indicated in the score, or whether they use the latest scholarly Urtext edition. I want to hear pianists who have the courage of their convictions, even if (especially if) they provoke as well as enthral in equal measure. Classical music is for the here and now, not for museum curators, and I only visit museums to see the dinosaurs, who are tone deaf (so I've heard....... wink ).
Posted By: Qazsedcft

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/25/17 11:41 PM

Barenboim is not on anyone's list?
Posted By: jondavwal

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 12:01 AM

Zimerman
Argerich
Volodos
Pollini
Perahia
Ranki
Blechacz
Yundi Li
Kissin
Uchida

My choice for the best living in no particular order.
Posted By: Miguel Rey

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 12:11 AM



Vladamir Ashkenazy ( can't believe not mentioned!)
Evgeny Kissin
Grigory Sokolov
Ivo Pogorelich
Krystian Zimerman
Benjamin Grosvenor
Andras Schiff
Nikolai Lugansky
Maurizio Pollini
Nelson Freire
Murray Perahia


So many others that I really enjoy that are underrated and didn't benefit from youtube and marketing.
Posted By: JoelW

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 12:13 AM

Even though he's insane today, I'd add Pogorelich.
Posted By: 17curleyj

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 12:40 AM

Originally Posted by XenondiFluoride
Hamelin
I am not sure of the others, they all have their areas where they shine, but I have to put Hamelin first, his technique is fantastic, and he never shies away from performing something totally unheard of, and when he does, I have never ran across a recording where I felt it was a bad interpretation.



I just saw Hamelin in concert ~ 3 weeks ago and it was an amazing experience. He displayed such a range of colors, which, coupled with his near unparalleled technique, made for a very memorable night. And, as you mentioned, he performed a Feinberg sonata ( a composer I'd never heard of) which ended up being one of my favorites of the night.
Posted By: argerichfan

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 01:10 AM

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Barenboim is not on anyone's list?

No.

But this is all merely personal opinion, and you're welcome to submit a list with his name on it if you feel he belongs amongst the other stellar names mentioned here. wink
Posted By: NervousWreck123

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 09:51 AM

1. Argenev
2. Pletnich
3. Katsarov
4. Sokoris
5. Voloduev
6. Matsos
7. Grosvenof
8. Trifonor
9. Kissiner
10. Goernin
Posted By: Hank M

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 12:21 PM

My list is based on a single, subjective factor: If this pianist is performing in my area, I would go to this concert, no matter what the program. So here's my list, in no particular order:

Argerich
Hamelin
Kissin
Ax
Yuja Wang
Zimerman
Schiff
Perahia
Volodos
Friere
Posted By: phantomFive

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/26/17 06:11 PM

Originally Posted by Hank M
My list is based on a single, subjective factor: If this pianist is performing in my area, I would go to this concert, no matter what the program. So here's my list, in no particular order:


That's a good way to measure it.
Posted By: P3T3R

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 01:37 AM

Originally Posted by Hank M
My list is based on a single, subjective factor: If this pianist is performing in my area, I would go to this concert, no matter what the program. So here's my list, in no particular order:

Argerich
Hamelin
Kissin
Ax
Yuja Wang
Zimerman
Schiff
Perahia
Volodos
Friere


I agree with both your method and most of your list. I don't know Friere - time to do some research.
Posted By: wr

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 05:07 AM

Originally Posted by P3T3R


I agree with both your method and most of your list. I don't know Friere - time to do some research.


To search, you'll need the correct spelling - it's Freire. It's a weirdly hard spelling to remember, I think - I always have to check. His first name is Nelson.

His Brahms 2nd concerto recording is one of the best, IMO.
Posted By: ghosthand

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 07:58 AM

How very pointless. Music is art, not sports. You can rank sports stars according to their competition results. You cannot rank musicians, just as little as you can rank paint artists, chefs or moms.

From all the pianists I've heard in live performances, these totally blew me away:

Per Tengstrand
Leslie Howard
Murray McLachlan
Peter Donohoe
Zlata Cochieva
Noriko Ogawa

From video clips and recordings I also have loved these:
Michail Pletnev
Daniel Barenboim
Daniil Trifonov

I'm gonna see Sokolov in concert in a few weeks, maybe I will add him on the list too after that.

I know I have left out some "obvious" names from the list above, but they have not made a very lasting impression on me. There are lots of pianists who are very, very good and have a wonderful technique and flawless interpretations, etcetera, but I don't feel the magic in the air. What is "magic", then? Well, it is impossible to describe, you just know it when you hear it. And it is not there just because a certain someone is a famous name. It has to be a personal experience for me.
Posted By: Hank M

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 11:41 AM

Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by P3T3R


I agree with both your method and most of your list. I don't know Friere - time to do some research.


To search, you'll need the correct spelling - it's Freire. It's a weirdly hard spelling to remember, I think - I always have to check. His first name is Nelson.

His Brahms 2nd concerto recording is one of the best, IMO.

Thanks for the spelling correction. I would edit my post if I knew how!
Posted By: phantomFive

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 03:59 PM

I don't want to start any arguments, and ranking is hard anyway, but I do want to give an unconventional answer.

In terms of depth of understanding of the music, knowing how to fit together all the various themes and supporting structures, understanding crescendos and decrescendos and when to accelerate and rubato, finding good balance between parts, and finding good balance between the piano and orchestra, and understanding the meaning of the music, maybe no pianist is better than Michael Tilson Thomas.

He doesn't perform very often as a pianist these days, but if you get the chance, I strongly recommend going to hear him. His concerts are superb. His Rhapsody in Blue and other Gershwin recordings were sparkling, and and his knowledge and skill has only deepened in 30 years of conducting since then.
Posted By: argerichfan

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/27/17 10:46 PM

Originally Posted by phantomFive
...maybe no pianist is better than Michael Tilson Thomas.

is Rhapsody in Blue and other Gershwin recordings were sparkling, and and his knowledge and skill has only deepened in 30 years of conducting since then.

You make a thoughtful point. I have MTT's Gershwin CD -which I have put on the player- and I can certainly understand where you are coming from.

And yet... I would be reluctant to part with Oscar Levant's Preludes or Earl Wild's Concerto. They set the bar very high, and IMO not equaled.

MTT's Mahler recordings at San Francisco have been critically well received, but they have never reached the consensus level of, say, Bernstein or Tennstedt.
Posted By: kbrod1

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/28/17 07:31 PM

I like your list. This is so difficult because one can think of at least double that of current outstanding pianists, but this list is a good start.
Posted By: phantomFive

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 07:27 AM

Originally Posted by argerichfan
Originally Posted by phantomFive
...maybe no pianist is better than Michael Tilson Thomas.

is Rhapsody in Blue and other Gershwin recordings were sparkling, and and his knowledge and skill has only deepened in 30 years of conducting since then.

You make a thoughtful point. I have MTT's Gershwin CD -which I have put on the player- and I can certainly understand where you are coming from.

And yet... I would be reluctant to part with Oscar Levant's Preludes or Earl Wild's Concerto. They set the bar very high, and IMO not equaled.

MTT's Mahler recordings at San Francisco have been critically well received, but they have never reached the consensus level of, say, Bernstein or Tennstedt.


I won't argue with your ears, but let me give some thoughts based on what I've heard living in San Francisco.

MTT's Mahler is very sharp. The orchestra will change tempos on a dime, almost instantaneously, for example. I would describe the style as very clear and transparent, so Mahler's ideas can be seen, almost as though the orchestra were a mirror you could look through to see Mahler's world. Sitting in the audience during Mahler's 9th was one of the most engrossing moments I've had listening to music, especially during the third movement. It isn't pleasant: Mahler was not happy in those days, but it is existential as all great music can be.

MTT's Beethoven in the last few years has really shone. Again, in the same way, becoming almost transparent so Beethoven himself shines through. I don't think anyone else has gotten as close to Beethoven, as if MTT had stepped aside and Beethoven was there. I can go into more detail on this topic if there is interest.

I should add that I greatly respect Bernstein, and I listen to him often for inspiration and knowledge, but tbh I prefer Ormandy. smile What a great conductor. Both of those are dead though, so it's kind of irrelevant here, I guess.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 03:26 PM

I saw MTT a lot when he was a young conductor frequently appearing with the Chicago Symphony at their Ravinia summer festival. (Speaking of Mahler, I was there when James Levine made his "breakout," subbing in on short notice for an ill Kertesz, who himself replaced the recently deceased Szell, for the Mahler 2nd -- amazing!).

I liked MTT when he was young, but having seen him conduct Mahler with San Francisco in recent years, I agree that he's grown a lot, and that fine orchestra has grown with him.

If there's a better match of orchestra and conductor today, I couldn't name it.
Posted By: jeffreyjones

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 05:01 PM

No particular order, just as they are occurring to me.

1. Maurizio Pollini
2. Martha Argerich
3. Menahem Pressler
4. Stephen Hough
5. Murray Perahia
6. Francesco Piemontesi
7. Marc-Andre Hamelin
8. Konstantin Scherbakov
9. Vladimir Ashkenazy
10. Krystian Zimerman

I was going to list Zoltan Kocsis, but he died in 2016.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 05:45 PM

Does Pletnev still perform on piano?
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 06:17 PM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Does Pletnev still perform on piano?

He seems to have returned to the piano in the past few years:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydJgpl2OsGs
Posted By: argerichfan

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/29/17 10:48 PM

Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
No particular order, just as they are occurring to me.
3. Menahem Pressler

Jeffrey, what an odd choice to put in the top ten. Why would that be? I would have thought possibly in the top 100...if even that.

If you compare his recording of the Schumann Op 44 Quintet with Argerich's, well time and time again Argerich freshly illuminates aspects of the piano writing (listen to how she handles the left-hand grace note in measure 103), whereas Pressler is competent consensus business as usual.

Jeffrey, I have always respected your opinions here, but this is a mystery to me.

Reportedly Pressler has been nasty in masterclasses, the typical symptom of a primadonna, but that is another issue.
Posted By: XenondiFluoride

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 01:01 AM

probably pretty unheard of, but Kemal Gekic is pretty great, he also champions some of the more unknown works.
Posted By: WhoDwaldi

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 02:43 AM

Originally Posted by argerichfan
Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
No particular order, just as they are occurring to me.
3. Menahem Pressler

Jeffrey, what an odd choice to put in the top ten. Why would that be? I would have thought possibly in the top 100...if even that.

If you compare his recording of the Schumann Op 44 Quintet with Argerich's, well time and time again Argerich freshly illuminates aspects of the piano writing (listen to how she handles the left-hand grace note in measure 103), whereas Pressler is competent consensus business as usual.

Jeffrey, I have always respected your opinions here, but this is a mystery to me.

Reportedly Pressler has been nasty in masterclasses, the typical symptom of a primadonna, but that is another issue.


I had a teacher who had studied from Pressler during a sabbatical that she took. She was something of a name dropper, but never said anything to me about him. I think she might have been really trying to pick his brain about competitions, as he served on juries at that time.
Posted By: johan d

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 05:23 AM

What about Maria Joa Pires? I don't see her in any list.
Posted By: LouisP

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 10:35 AM

Three prominent pianists whose names have not yet appeared, in alphabetical order:

Fleisher
Graffman
Watts

They're not all equally active, but all are living.

I'm not sure I can come up with a list of 10 that would be fair and satisfactory, in part because I'm a bit uneasy about comparing pianists I've never heard live with those that I have. For example, of the three aforementioned, I've heard only Watts live. Of their recordings, I've heard the most by Watts, the fewest by Fleisher.

Also, a list of the greatest and a list of favorites might differ a bit.

LAP
Posted By: CLM Piano Learner

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 02:46 PM

Originally Posted by LouisP
Three prominent pianists whose names have not yet appeared, in alphabetical order:

Fleisher
Graffman
Watts

They're not all equally active, but all are living.

LAP


Ah yes, André Watts! Unfortunately health issues have limited his appearances the last few years, but as I recall he was a huge name back in the 80s and 90s.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/30/17 05:32 PM

Originally Posted by CLM Piano Learner
Originally Posted by LouisP
Three prominent pianists whose names have not yet appeared, in alphabetical order:

Fleisher
Graffman
Watts

They're not all equally active, but all are living.

LAP


Ah yes, André Watts! Unfortunately health issues have limited his appearances the last few years, but as I recall he was a huge name back in the 80s and 90s.


And in the 60s and 70s. I was there. smile
Posted By: wr

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/31/17 12:48 AM

Originally Posted by johan d
What about Maria Joa Pires? I don't see her in any list.


Yes, definitely. I thought of her after I'd posted my last list of ten. It's odd how some names don't always come to mind right away, even if my esteem for the performer is as great (or even greater) as it is for some names that come to mind immediately. Ah, the insidious workings of fame....

And I thought of yet more that could be on my list - Tomsic, Queffelec, Simon, Shelley, Hodges, Pace (Enrico, not Ian - but Ian might be on some people's list as well), Virsaladze, Raekallio, Vogt, Muraro, Austbo, Goerner, Cohen, Campanella, Lortie, Thibaudet, Kuerti.

In a way, even though I've never heard what I think of as a "great" performance from him, Martin Roscoe may deserve a place, simply because of his tirelessness and competence. I'm surprised people aren't listing Angela Hewitt - she's not one of mine, but I had the idea that some others thought very highly of her. Maybe they aren't the type who participate in these list threads.
Posted By: Plowboy

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 05/31/17 09:52 PM

In no particular order:
Jeremy Denk
Yuja Wang
Stephen Hough
Jean-Yves Thiboudet
Yefim Bronfman
Andras Schiff
Emanuel Ax
Nikolai Lugansky
Ray Ushikubo
Maria Yudina (her soul lives on)
Posted By: CLM Piano Learner

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 06/01/17 04:51 PM

Here's my list. Note this is biased towards pianists I've had the great pleasure of hearing in person over the years. My list concludes with two young rising super stars (Grosvenor and Lisiecki) who I find to be phenomenally talented.

Also I'm surprised Valentina Lisitsa hasn't made anyone's list so far (unless I missed it).

Maria Joa Pires
Emanuel Ax
Yefim Bronfman
Stephen Hough
André Watts
Mitsuko Uchida
Mauricio Pollini
Valentina Lisitsa
Benjamin Grosvenor
Jan Lisiecki
Posted By: NervousWreck123

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 06/01/17 05:52 PM

Originally Posted by CLM Piano Learner
Here's my list. Note this is biased towards pianists I've had the great pleasure of hearing in person over the years. My list concludes with two young rising super stars (Grosvenor and Lisiecki) who I find to be phenomenally talented.

Also I'm surprised Valentina Lisitsa hasn't made anyone's list so far (unless I missed it).

Maria Joa Pires
Emanuel Ax
Yefim Bronfman
Stephen Hough
André Watts
Mitsuko Uchida
Mauricio Pollini
Valentina Lisitsa
Benjamin Grosvenor
Jan Lisiecki


Valentina who?

oh, that piano banger... right
Posted By: LouisP

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 06/02/17 01:10 AM



Ah yes, André Watts! Unfortunately health issues have limited his appearances the last few years, but as I recall he was a huge name back in the 80s and 90s.
[/quote]

And in the 60s and 70s. I was there. smile
[/quote]


"If you remember the sixties, you really weren't there."

attr. Charlie Fleisher, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, et al.

I guess I wasn't there, either.

LAP
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 06/02/17 02:59 AM

I didn't go to the same parties as those folks.
Posted By: SiFi

Re: Top 10 living classical concert pianists? - 06/03/17 02:06 PM

Originally Posted by LouisP
"If you remember the sixties, you really weren't there."

attr. Charlie Fleisher, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, et al.

I love it!
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