Critical Acclaim for Sergei Babayan playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Mannheim Philharmonic

Sergei Babayan

Translated from German

Mannheimer Morgen, March 14, 2018
"There are these concerts that richly recoup the reviewer for many nights of utter mediocrity. That is what happened when Sergei Babayan, Armenia-born American pianist, played Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto at the nearly sold-out Mannheim Musensaal. Babayan, who has formed entire generations of pianists in Cleveland and at the Juilliard School including the current shooting star Trifonov, intends to perform in Europe more often. Good for us! What the modest 57-year old offered last night, was nothing short of sensational. From the opening soft immersion into the waves of sound of the first movement (of course presented with the large cadenza) to the nobility of the intermezzo that was brought without sentimentality, to the opulent ecstasy of the finale: This was brilliant, always transparent pianism without artificial showmanship. His encore: Bach's Aria from the Goldberg Variations, beautiful to die for."

Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, March 15, 2018
"Overwhelming energy and romantic frissons - Pianist Sergei Babayan with the Mannheim Philharmonic showed passion that shattered all boundaries. - Rare are these moments that make you start raving, as does Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto. Rarely does the listener traverse such a long buildup to the enthusiastic climax of the finale. But of course this only happens when you have a legendary pianist at the instrument such as Sergei Babayan. He formed the opening melody as if absorbed in thought, dreamily, laying open the field for everything that followed. Exactly as required by Rachmaninov, Babayan showed breathtaking virtuosity and sensitivity, but also the greatest possible pianistic force to finally let overwhelming emotions fulminate from the grand piano."

Die Rheinpfalz, March 18, 2018
”Magician of the Piano Sound: Sergei Babayan Wows with Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto. - Sergei Babayan created a major musical event with Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto at the third symphonic concert of the Mannheim Philharmonic. The young orchestra lead by Boian Videnoff were excellent partners in his sensational appearance. Rachmaninov's third Concerto gives pianists around the world shivers of respect - not so for the Armenian-American artist Babayan, celebrated at the most respected venues worldwide, and piano duo partner to Martha Argerich. For the extraordinary challenges of Rachmaninov's concerto seemed not to pose any difficulty whatsoever to him. Babayan came up with all pianistic sorcerer tricks just like that, presented breakneck runs and majestic, thundering chords with stunning ease, thanks to the brilliant, dizzying speed of his hands, a steel-like staccato coming from his wrists and a striking flexibility that were unheard of. But this concert was not only and not primarily about technique and walks on pianistic tightropes. Babayan presented an interpretation that was musically reflected in depth and highly sensitive, exposing the late-romantic feel of the composition and its melancholic, lyrical inspiration. More than that, he knew how to make the piano ring and, even more impressively with a keyboard instrument, how to make it sing. Clearly so with the opening movement: very dark, very still, thoughtful, watches replica, simple and touching. This beginning already made it clear without ambiguity that Babayan is a magician of the sound."