The Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts wins over audiences with his extremely virtuosic playing and sensitive interpretations, and is always looking for new musical challenges. As a sought-after soloist, he devotes himself to the great orchestral repertoire but also to contemporary and seldom-played works. He has premiered compositions by Peter Maxwell Davies, Augusta Read Thomas, Christophe Bertrand and Michael Jarrell. In addition, he is interested in historical performance practice: most recently he could be seen in a play-conduct role performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in its original key with the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, and was invited as soloist with the Oxford Philharmonia.
Ilya Gringolts has performed with leading orchestras around the world such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, NHK Symphony, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Sao Paulo State Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra and both orchestras of Southwest German Radio. Recent highlights included projects with the Bamberg Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Symphony. In 2016/17, highlights include his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony with Ligeti’s Violin Concerto and a tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of his former teacher Itzhak Perlman.
He is also the first violinist of the Gringolts Quartet, which he founded in 2008 and which enjoys great success with performances at the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Menuhin Festival Gstaad and Teatro La Fenice in Venice, among others. As a keen chamber musician, Ilya Gringolts collaborates with artists such as Yuri Bashmet, David Kadouch, Itamar Golan, Peter Laul, Aleksandar Madzar, Nicolas Altstaedt, Andreas Ottensamer, Antoine Tamestit and Jörg Widmann, and is a regular guest at the festivals in Lucerne, Kuhmo, Verbier, Colmar and Bucharest (Enescu Festival), as well as at Wigmore Hall, the Serate Musicali in Milan and St. Petersburg Philharmonia.
Following numerous critically praised recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon, BIS and Hyperion labels, Ilya Gringolts devoted himself to the chamber music of Robert Schumann from 2010 to 2011, releasing three CDs on Onyx. In 2013/14 his recording of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin on Orchid Classics received many outstanding reviews, and in the orchestral realm, he caught audiences’ and critics’ attention in spring 2015 with his recording of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Violin Concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
After studying violin and composition in St. Petersburg with Tatiana Liberova and Jeanna Metallidi, he attended the Juilliard School of Music where he studied with Itzhak Perlman. In 1998 he won the International Violin Competition Premio Paganini, as the youngest first prize winner in the history of the competition.
As well as his position as violin professor at the Zurich Academy of the Arts, he is also a Violin International Fellow at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Ilya Gringolts plays a Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” violin, Cremona 1742-43, on loan from a private collection.
‘Then on came Polina Leschenko with some of the most poetic and devastatingly beautiful piano playing I have heard in an account of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto that had ‘masterpiece’ stamped all over it. The playing by pianist and orchestra in the gorgeous slow movement stopped time; and my heart. What a night!’ The Herald, 14 February 2010, Michael Tumelty.
Polina Leschenko was born in St Petersburg into a family of musicians and began playing the piano under her father’s guidance at the age of six. Two years later she performed with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra in St.Petersburg.
In 1991 Polina moved with her family to Europe where she studied with her father Sergey Leschenko at the Brussels Conservatory and with Prof. Pavel Gililov at the Hochschule für Musik in Köln.
Other major influences have included lessons with Prof. Vitali Margulis and Alexander Rabinovitch-Barakovsky. At the age of 12 Polina made her UK debut at the Barbican Hall in London playing Beethoven’s piano concerto n.5.
Leschenko has worked with such prominent orchestras as the Salzburg Camerata, Hallé Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Britten Sinfonia, Bern Symphony, Russian National Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan, Orquesta de Euskadi and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Polina has given critically acclaimed solo recitals and chamber music concerts at such renowned venues as the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Kölner Philharmonie, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Cité de la Musique in Paris and the Opera House in Sydney.
An accomplished and admired chamber musician, Polina Leschenko also performs frequently at many festivals, including the Salzburg Festival, Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Verbier, Risor, Stavanger, Vinterfest (Sweden), International Chambermusic Festival Utrecht, la Roque d’Anthéron, Aldeburgh, Oxford, Cheltenham, Stift, Istanbul, and Musiktage Mondsee. Regular collaborations with artists include Martha Argerich, Ivry Gitlis, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Ilya Gringolts, Julian Rachlin, Heinrich Schiff, Mischa Maisky, Torleif Thedéen, Martin Frost and the Auryn Quartet.
In 2003 Polina Leschenko recorded a début CD for EMI Classics in the series “Martha Argerich presents…” with works by Liszt, Chopin, Kreisler/Rachmaninov, Brahms and Bach/Feinberg. She has also recorded a well-received disc of Prokofiev chamber music with Martha Argerich, Christian Poltéra and Roby Lakatos, for Avanticlassic, with whom she has a recording contract. Her recital disc – featuring an all-Liszt program including the B minor
Sonata – was released in May 2007 to great critical acclaim, receiving a “Choc” du Monde de la Musique.
Polina’s most recent CD’s include a recital CD entitled “Forgotten Melodies” (Avanticalssic), Mendelssohn double concerto with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti (BIS ) and a recording of the Dvorak piano quartet op.87 on EMI Classics as part of the “Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012” series. During a three-year residency, from 2009 to 2012, Leschenko held the position of International Chair in Piano at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff.
Since September 2013 Polina has been appointed professor of piano at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, Belgium.