Mr Eugene Asti
Research, Scholarship and Creative PracticeOther ActivitiesResearch CV
Other Scholarly outputs
- Book Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Lieder*. Transcribed, edited and wrote the critical commentary for an Urtext edition of Mendelssohn’s unknown Lieder, which was published with full texts and translations by Bärenreiter-Verlag [BA 9085]. October 2008.
*Completing this edition was a significant and challenging project that lasted over ten years from start to completion. Three years of this work was funded by a generous grant from the Research Department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in which some of this time I worked with the Mendelssohn autograph MSS at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, the Rudolf Sacher Foundation in Basel and the Bodleian Library in Oxford. During the course of it, I was in contact with a number of the most important Mendelssohn scholars in the world including my research advisor Peter Ward-Jones (formerly at the Bodleian Library in Oxford), R. Larry Todd (at Duke University, USA), and John Michael Cooper (Southwestern University, USA). As part of this work, I have recorded Mendelssohn’s complete songs for Hyperion and also created several specialized performance projects (both professional and with my students).
- Performance Recent engagements (2018-2020) included recitals with Dame Sarah Connolly and Tenebrae Choir at the Wigmore Hall, and at the Oxford Lieder Festival; recitals with Sophie Karthäuser at the Kölner Philharmonie and in Zürich, the Pierre Boulez-Saal in Berlin and Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels at the L'Amphitheatre Vauban in Namur, The Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, the Aula Collegium Novum Hall in Krakow and at the concert hall in Blaibach; and concerts with Sophie Karthäuser, Mhairi Lawson, Stephan Loges, Alessandro Fisher and James Newby as well a masterclass at the Clara Schumann Festival at St John’s, Smith Square in London. Further engagements last season included a recital with Stephan Loges as well as giving a masterclass at the Oxford Lieder Spring Weekend of Song; and a concert with Sir Willard White at the Barber Institute in Birmingham. He also shared the platform with pianist Graham Johnson and seventeen of the finest young singers of today for the season’s final concert at the Wigmore Hall. Future engagements include recitals with Sophie Karthäuser at the International Lied Festival in Zeist, at L’Été Mosan in Belgium, and at the Wigmore Hall.
Upcoming engagements include the closing concert at the Oxford Lieder Festival with Dame Sarah Connolly (in October 2022).
- Performance Have devised and led many performance projects with my students at both Trinity Laban and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. These include:
At Trinity Laban: Hugo Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch (2004); Robert and Clara Schumann (2006); French music Festival – various composers (2009); Johannes Brahms (2013); Richard Strauss (2014); Franz Schubert (2015); Poulenc and Schumann (2016); Claude Debussy and Beyond (2018); Johannes Brahms (2019); Voice/Piano Festival – various composers (2021); Ludwig van Beethoven (2022).
At GSMD: Felix Mendelssohn – His Songs WITH Words (2012); Hugo Wolf Mörike-Lieder (2015); Des Knaben Wunderhorn settings (2016); Hugo Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch (2017); Felix/Fanny Mendelssohn – Songs and Letters (2017); Late Schumann (2016); Goethe's Wilhelm Meister (2018); Brahms and his Poets (2018); Heinrich Heine in Song (2019); Complete Clara Schumann Songs (2019); Scenes from Childhood (2020 – online); Hugo Wolf Spanisches Liederbuch (2021); Franz Schubert – Seidl and Leitner settings (2022).
- Other Recordings/Discography (with selected reviews):
Eric Coates – Songs – with Richard Edgar-Wilson and Michael Ponder (viola). 1995
Marco Polo 8.223806
Mendelssohn – Songs and Duets – 1 with Sophie Daneman and Nathan Berg. 1998
'The most attractive programming of the Mendelssohn duets yet devised' (Fanfare, USA)
'An exceptionally engaging disc' (Classic CD)
Fanny Mendelssohn – Lieder – with Susan Gritton. 2000
‘[Fanny Mendelssohn's] reputation deserves the kind of boost this excellent disc offers. Both Eugene Asti and Susan Gritton get to the heart of these pieces' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Pleasant, delightful … an excellent record: enterprising programmes, fresh young artists, fine presentation, typical Hyperion' (Gramophone)
'Beautiful, direct, simple and memorable new song[s] … Asti provides the beautifully limpid, balanced accompaniment you imagine Fanny herself might have played' (International Record Review)
Mendelssohn – Songs and Duets – 2 with Sophie Daneman and Stephan Loges. 2001
The Songs of Clara Schumann (complete) – with Susan Gritton and Stephan Loges. 2002
Hyperion CDA67249 / Re-released in 2007 on Helios CDH55275
'[Stephan Loges] brings to his contributions the youthful warmth of his attractively vibrant baritone and his wonderful feeling for line and word … Lieder singing of the highest calibre … delightful … it is good to have all these songs, long hidden in libraries, available on CD’ (Gramophone)
‘Perfect diction makes the lyrics shiver with anticipation … sparkling accompaniment by Eugene Asti’ (Independent on Sunday)
‘This venture is invaluable, and thoroughly enjoyable’ (The Guardian)
‘Eloquent singing … ideally sensitive accompaniments’ (Music Week)
‘Anyone who cares about lieder singing and repertoire must have this disc … artful, sensitive, attentive, technically assured performances – absolutely first rate’ (ClassicsToday.com)
‘All three performers are excellent … this is a delightful issue; I shall often return to it’ (International Record Review)
‘I don’t know how Hyperion keeps coming up with such fine young talent, but here we go again with another beautifully sung and superbly recorded effort from our English friends … excellent but seldom heard music, wonderful singing, fine engineering, and Hyperion's well-above-average documentation all add up to a thoroughly enjoyable experience’ (American Record Guide)
‘un bon argument pour découvrir ces œuvres’ (Répertoire)
Mendelssohn – Songs and Duets – 3 with Sophie Daneman, Sarah Connolly, Mark Padmore and Stephan Loges. 2003
‘There is much to recommend in this collection. First of all, the songs themselves, some deeper than others, are sweet and forthright, and shown to their best advantage by the equally sweet and forthright playing of Eugene Asti. Displaying a remarkable ease at the keyboard and a deep sense of these pieces, he seems to be the inspiring and unifying force behind the entire enterprise' (Fanfare, USA)
The Exquisite Hour: Songs by Haydn, Brahms, Hahn, Korngold, Weill, Ireland and Britten – with Sarah Connolly. Recorded live at St. John’s Smith Square. 2006
‘…Exquisitely articulated and accompanied…’ (BBC Music Magazine)
‘The excellent pianist is Eugene Asti, always sensitive and supportive.’ (Sunday Telegraph)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Complete Songs for Voice and Piano with Sophie Karthäuser and Stephan Loges. 2007
5 ***** (Diapason) and 5 ***** (Choc de la Musique)
Schumann: Songs of Love and Loss with Sarah Connolly. 2008
‘Sarah Connolly reveals much of the composer’s fervent inwardness – something she and her accompanist, Eugene Asti, capture so well throughout.’ (BBC Music Magazine)
‘…there is much to enjoy here from both Connolly and the illuminating accompanist Asti.’ (The Times)
‘[the]Liederkreis is superbly done – an unnerving voyage through a soured Romantic landscape, awash with intimations of the horrors that lurk unsuspected in the corners of the psyche. Asti is her breathtakingly fine accompanist.’ (The Guardian)
Mendelssohn – Songs and Duets – 4 with Katherine Broderick, Hannah Morrison, Anna Grevelius, Finnur Bjarnarson and Stephan Loges. 2009
'Loges – and Asti's committed piano-playing … provide consistent pleasure' (The Sunday Times)
'Stephan Loges satisfies most consistently with his understanding, beauty of tone and care for legato. Asti is the admirable pianist throughout and in two of the items is responsible for the completion of songs left unfinished' (Gramophone)
Mendelssohn – Songs and Duets – 5 with Katherine Broderick, Hannah Morrison, Anna Grevelius, Finnur Bjarnarson, Stephan Loges and James Rutherford. 2010
‘Hyperion’s series of Mendelssohn’s neglected vocal pieces continues to spread enchantment, thanks in part to young British talent. Katherine Broderick and Hannah Morrison, wonderfully clear and expressive sopranos, top the line-up gathered by Eugene Asti … Genius is frequent and Mendelssohn’s charm almost constant’ (The Independent)
'Eugene Asti plays with a refreshingly light touch and a lively sense of rhythm' (Gramophone)
Roser og Kjerlighed – Inspired by Norway: Songs by Lange-Müller, Rung, Kjerulf, Møller-Ibsen and Blom with Helene Wold, Per Andreas Tønder and Vegard Lund, guitar. 2011
Music and Words: Songs and Transcriptions of Franz Schubert (2 volumes) with Mhairi Lawson, Norbert Meyn, William Dazeley and Jane Booth (clarinet). 2012
SFZ Music SFZM0312
Most Grand to Die: Songs by Butterworth, Gurney and Vaughan-Williams with James Rutherford. 2012
‘Without doubt, the performance of American pianist Eugene Asti is a key feature of this recital. With faultless technique, deep poetic sensitivity and evident love for these pieces, he evokes the sunlit yesteryear landscapes of Central England, mourns the ever-present thoughts of men dying in vain, then brings heart to WV's Travels. I have to mention particularly his breath-taking rapt beauty in the preludes and postludes of the Butterworth songs, where he quietly relishes the composer's curdling harmonic progressions.’ (SACD.net)
‘…Equally admirable is the pianism of Eugene Asti who demonstrates here, and throughout the programme, fine tone and a most sensitive touch.’ (MusicWebInternational.com)
Season Songs: Songs by Benjamin Britten (Winter Words, op. 52) , John Parry, Ben Parry and Andrew Leach with Richard Edgar-Wilson, Andrew Leach and Sam Wilson, 2013
EM Records EMR CD014
Les anges musiciens: Songs by Francis Poulenc with Sophie Karthäuser. 2014
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902179
Le choix de France Musique; Choc de Classica; Excepcional (Scherzo)
“Pianist Eugene Asti is a capable and expressive accompanist, handling the rushing whirl of Le présent with apparent ease, demonstrating subtle flexibility in the opening instrumental recitative of “C.” (the first of the 2 poemes de Louis Aragon) , and projecting a delicate sadness in such pieces as Un ruine coquille vide.” (www.arkivmusic.com)
Schubert – Schwanengesang with James Rutherford. 2015
BIS BIS-2180 SACD
“Beyond its superlative musical qualities, this disc makes one of the most convincing cases yet recorded for regarding and performing Schwanengesang as a cycle, the seeds of complementary ideas blossoming in the warmth of Rutherford’s and Asti’s nurturing.” (www.voix-des-arts.com)
“Rutherford and Asti are both perceptive, probing artists of similar mind. Not surprisingly, their work in this project produces deeply satisfying accounts of [these] songs. The first few moments of Schwanengesang immediately catch our ear, with Asti's haunting velvety pianistic touch which makes a lovely impression in the gorgeous acoustic of Potton Hall, Suffolk.” (www.hraudio.net)
Kennst du das Land?: Songs by Hugo Wolf with Sophie Karthäuser. 2016
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902245
“Karthauser…is sensitive to Wolf’s sour-sweet, ever-shifting harmonies, and the raw nerves of the melodic line as it responds to the verse. And she is warmly supported by every nuance of accompaniment delineated in Eugene Asti’s piano playing … This anthology of uneasy springs, lovers’ twilights, innocence threatened and experience mourned would make a good introduction for a newcomer to Hugo Wolf.” (BBC Music Magazine)
“It’s so lovely to hear the piano sound given the prominence that it deserves, and there’s a lovely bloom on the recording that gives it an almost live quality which I really appreciated. It’s a great selection of songs … it just works really well.” (CD Review)
“Karthäuser here proves herself a natural in Lieder…With her fresh, limpid soprano and sharp feeling for character and nuance, she gives unfailing delight in these settings… Asti is a model partner, commentator and animator.” (Gramophone)
Le Bal des Animaux: A Musical Bestiary – songs by Lalo, Ravel, Poulenc, Fauré, Séverac, Chabrier, Satie, Offenbach, Hahn, Bizet, Chausson, Chopin/Viardot and Rossini. Solo piano pieces by Debussy and Ibert with Sophie Karthäuser. 2018
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902260
“Sophie Karthäuser and Eugene Asti are both accomplished mimics, and miss no opportunities among the larks (Lalo’s L’Alouette’), cicadas (Chabrier’s ‘Les Cigales’), cats (Rossini’s famous cat duet, where Kärthauser is assisted by countertenor Dominique Visse), and other fauna. They also deftly change mood when animals are employed as mournful metaphors.” (BBC Music Magazine)
“This disc is a winner. It works on so many levels: as a thought-provoking survey of the remarkable extent to which French composers in particular have been inspired and stimulated by the animal world; as a carefully planned song recital; as an album into which you can dip easily for ten or fifteen minutes of unalloyed pleasure; and as an approachable anthology of French song which could make many new converts to the genre. I loved it. Karthäuser’s lyric soprano is intrinsically beautiful, pure and clear as a bell; but she also offers a tremendous range of vocal colour, a sophisticated sense of style, the ability to underline verbal or emotional detail without disturbing the melodic line, excellent diction, and apparently effortless control of her instrument. Moreover, she is ideally accompanied by Eugene Asti. He too has an utterly secure technique and is immensely skilful in imitating such natural phenomena as a cricket’s chirping (in Ravel’s ‘Le Grillon’) or the gentle lapping of water (in Poulenc’s ‘La Carpe’ or Ravel’s ‘Le Cygne’). Above all, he seems alert to every nuance both of the songs and of Karthäuser’s interpretation of them. There is a real, vibrant sense of partnership – and one which is underlined by a judiciously balanced recording.” (www.musicweb-international.com)
On the piano, Eugene Asti is boldly descriptive. He creates twinkling ripples around the swan in Ravel’s “Le cygne” and surrounds Baudelaire’s owls with nocturnal mystery in De Séverac’s Les hiboux. When required, such as in Chausson’s Le colibri, his playing has a gossamer transparency. The variety of the program is enriched when he goes solo in four playfully elegant extracts from Debussy’s Children’s Corner and Ibert’s Histoires, adding a drowsy elephant and a frisky white donkey to the menagerie. The recording strikes a good balance between an intimate closeness to Karthäuser’s voice and atmospheric space for the piano. The CD booklet contains the original poems with English translations and an informative essay by Denis Herlin. This recital is an excellent introduction to the genre. For those already familiar with these sometimes quirky, sometimes dreamy, always refined songs, Karthäuser and Asti will join the list of their worthy interpreters. (www.operatoday.com)
Johannes Brahms – Late Piano Works: opp.116, 117 & 118 (solo disc). 2018
Lawo LWC 1148
“Dem Pianisten Eugene Asti gelingt es auf dieser CD den Zuhörer gleich vom ersten Moment an zu fesseln. Mit seiner mitreißenden, mal dramatisch zupackenden Art zu spielen (Capriccio: Presto energico) oder auch mal mit schwebenden, graziöse Piani (Intermezzo: Adagio) setzt er auch perlende Triller ( aus den drei Interemezzi; Andante con moto) ein. Er findet für jede dieser 16 Kompositionen einen individuellen musikalischen Zugang. Hervorragend seine dynamischen Abstufungen im Piano, seine Eleganz, die er im musikalischen Ausdruck speziell bei den Pianopassagen an den Tag legt. Eine CD, die man gehört haben sollte.”
“The pianist Eugene Asti manages to captivate the listener from the first moment on this CD. With his rousing, sometimes dramatically gripping way of playing (Capriccio: Presto energico) or sometimes with floating, graceful piani (Intermezzo: Adagio) he also uses pearling trills (from the three Interemezzi, Andante con moto). He finds an individual musical approach to each of these 16 compositions. Outstanding are his dynamic nuances in the piano, his elegance, which he expresses in his musical expression, especially in the piano passages. A CD that should be heard.” (www.wordpress.com)
“Auf dieser CD passt einfach alles: Späte Klavierwerke von Johannes Brahms, aufgenommen in der wunderbar natürlichen Akustik der Sofienberg-Kirche in Oslo und gespielt auf einem hervorragend restaurierten und fabelhaft klingenden Steinway D aus dem Jahr 1893 von einem Pianisten, der um die letzten Dinge bei Brahms weiß.
Die Aufnahmen zeigen Eugene Asti als einen Brahms-Interpreten allererster Güte. Zwischen kraftvollen Forte und feinsten Pianissimo musiziert der Amerikaner höchst stimmungsvoll, mit viel Spannung, viel Reflektivem und viel purer Schönheit. Asti begrenzt das Melancholische und bringt eher das Zärtliche, aber auch das manchmal Zynische, Selbstspöttische der Musik zum Ausdruck, und das in einer so natürlichen Art und Weise, dass nichts überzogen oder recherchiert wirkt.
Bei so viel gestalterischem Raffinement und so viel charakteristischem Musizieren kann man nur von einer großartigen Brahms-CD sprechen.”
“Everything fits on this CD: Late Piano Works by Johannes Brahms, recorded in the wonderfully natural acoustics of the Sofienberg Church in Oslo and played on a beautifully restored and fabulous-sounding Steinway D from 1893 by a pianist who understands the last things Brahms composed.
The recordings show Eugene Asti as a Brahms interpreter of the very highest quality. Between powerful forte and the finest pianissimo, the American performs with a great sense of mood, suspense, sense of reflection and pure beauty. Asti limits the melancholy and expresses the tenderness, but also the sometimes cynical, self-mocking nature of music, in such a natural way that nothing seems exaggerated or studied.
With so much creative refinement and so much characteristic music making, one can only speak of a great Brahms CD.”
Eugene Asti proves an excellent Brahms performer. His playing on a very well-restored Steinway from 1893 is refined and atmospheric in a well-laid-out sound recording
“Asti is een begenadigd pianist die Brahms’ intimiteit perfect weet te peilen en die de diepgang ervan met wondermooie fraseringen en een beheerste doch overgevoelige aanslag, omtovert in een prachtige pianoklank. Wondermooi. Warm aanbevolen.”
“Asti is a gifted pianist who perfectly understands Brahms' intimacy and transforms the depth of it with wonderful phrasing and a controlled yet highly sensitive attack into a beautiful piano sound. Wonderful. Highly recommended.” (www.stretto.be)
Harmonie du soir: Mélodies/Songs by Debussy with Sophie Karthäuser, Stéphane Degout and Alain Planès. 2018
Harmonia Mundi 2CD HMM 902306.07
Shortlisted for a Gramophone Award
“Asti is no less wonderful [than Planès], a winning light touch to his guitar-strumming in ‘Mandoline’, while his phrasing in ‘La flûte de Pan’ is especially limpid.” (Mark Pullinger, Gramophone)
“Both pairs of performers on these discs emerge as Debussyans to their very core. It is a rare delight to encounter almost half of the French master’s songs in performances as carefully conceived as they are committed, especially since his achievement in the field of the Mélodie is the area of his canon which is arguably least known to listeners. There are abundant treasures to be enjoyed here. The recording is warm and natural and continues the fine sonic traditions of this label. This beautifully produced set is a treat indeed and marks another splendid contribution from Harmonia Mundi to the Debussy centenary.” (www.musicweb-international.com)
Schubert – Winterreise with James Rutherford. 2021
BIS BIS-2410 SACD
- Performance Selected Projects as Artistic Director
10 November 2012 ‘Mendelssohn Day’ – Songs by Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn
and Robert and Clara Schumann
Wigmore Hall, London. Two Concerts.
Artists: Susan Gritton, Sarah Connolly, Katherine Broderick, Daniela Lehner, Andrew Kennedy and Stephan Loges.
October 2010 Song Recital Series – Wolf and Schumann Anniversaries
– February 2011 St John’s Smith Square, London. Three Concerts.
Artists: Dame Felicity Lott, Sophie Daneman, Stephan Loges, Katherine Broderick and Roderick Williams.
February 2009 Song Recital Series – “Mendelssohn Rediscovered”
Kings Place, London (inaugural season). Five Concerts.
Artists: Sophie Daneman, Hannah Morrison, Stephan Loges, Susan Gritton, Finnur Bjarnason, Geraldine McGreevy, James Rutherford, Katherine Broderick, Anna Grevelius and the cellist Richard Lester.
October 2006 Song Recital Series – “Widmung: A Dedication” – Schumann Anniversary
– July 2007 St. John’s Smith Square, London. Nine Concerts.
Artists included: Dame Felicity Lott, Sophie Daneman, Mark Padmore, Sally Matthews, Susan Gritton, Finnur Bjarnason, James Rutherford, Neal Davies, Rebecca Evans, Susan Bickley and The Florestan Trio.
October 1999 Song Recital Series – Strauss and Poulenc Songs (with Jonathan Papp)
– June 2000 St. John’s Smith Square, London. Six Concerts.
Artists included: Dame Felicity Lott, Sir Thomas Allen, Christopher Maltman, Katarina Karneus, Sophie Daneman, William Dazeley, Alison Buchanan and Stephan Loges.
February Song Recital Series – “Brahms: A Centenary Celebration”
– July 1997 St. John’s Smith Square, London. Three Concerts.
Artists: Susan Gritton, Richard Edgar-Wilson, Ruby Philogene and William Dazeley.
1997 Song Recital Series – Songs by Felix Mendelssohn and others
St. George’s Brandon Hill, Bristol. Six Concerts.
Artists included: Dame Felicity Lott, Nancy Argenta, Sophie Daneman,
Paul Agnew, and clarinettist Antony Pay.
- Other Selected Masterclasses (as teacher):
2015 Schubert-Institut Master Course, Baden-bei-Wien
October 2010 Wigmore Hall – Schumann Lieder Masterclass
2007, 2008, and several times since then (need to look up exact dates) Oxford Lieder Festival – “Master Course”
2005 Royal Academy of Music “Lyric Song Salon” – Fanny Mendelssohn Lieder
2003 and 2004 Casa da Musica in Oporto, Portugal. Two concert projects – Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch and Lieder by Robert and Clara Schumann.
- Other I have served as an invited panel member (adjudicator) for several competitions including the Kathleen Ferrier Awards (2-3 times, will need to look up/find dates); The (RPS) Gerald Moore Award (2-3 times including this year 2022); Lieder prizes at both the RCM and the RAM (several times - will need to look up/find dates).