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Ilya Gringolts

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Violinist Ilya Gringolts created a sensation with his 2002 recording of J.S. Bach's works for solo violin (Partitas No. 1 and No. 3 and Sonata No. 2). Describing Gringolts' performance of these works as astonishing and powerful, critics were particularly impressed by his ability to transcend the purely technical obstacles and introduce his listeners to the infinite spiritual richness of Bach's music for solo violin. But there is something uncanny and unique about the technique itself. As violinists and cellists know, playing Bach is an acrobatic experience. Listening to Gringolts, however, one gets the distinct feeling of assurance and authority: if, for most violinists, a Bach partita is a fragile structure, the musical edifice that Gringolts builds seems as indestructible as an idea. Born in 1982 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Gringolts started violin lessons in 1988, entering the St. Petersburg Special Music School two years later. He placed second in his first national competition in 1992, winning first prize at a national youth competition -- and making his debut with Moscow Symphony Orchestra -- in 1994. The following year, Gringolts won a prize at the Menuhin Competition in England and met the legendary violinist. Also in 1995, Gringolts made his western European orchestral debut, in Finland, performing Bruch's Violin Concerto in G minor. Laureate of the Wieniawski Junior Competition in 1997, Gringolts won first prize at the Paganini Competition in 1998, becoming the youngest violinist to ever attain this honor. In 1999, Gringolts started working with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School, continuing his studies until 2002 when he made his North American debut playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Gringolts immediately became a much-demanded soloist, sharing the stage with the world's most prominent conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Gringolts regularly performs at Europe's most distinguished concert venues and festivals. Having signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon from 2001-2005, Gringolts first release for the label was the Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich violin concertos. He has since also appeared on the Hyperion label, with the music of Arensky and Taneyev; and on Onyx with chamber music by Schumann; and more. His repertoire spans from Bach (he often uses a Baroque instrument and bow for early music) to Maxwell Davies. Gringolts teaches at Hochschule Basel, and in 2008 formed the Gringolts String Quartet.

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