RECORDING OF WILLIAM WALTON's VIOLIN CONCERTO
New Haven Symphony Orchestra / William Boughton - NIMBUS
And what a violinist! He surmounts the piece's enormous challenges . . . with a remarkable show of musicianship . . . a deeply involving and passionate recording.
(New Haven Advocate, July 2010)
. . . the excellent Kurt Nikkanen . . . a very gifted player . . . a distinctive and individual reading that is wholly, refreshingly, convincing and quite moving.
(International Record Review, July/August 2010)
His (Nikkanen's) Walton Violin Concerto is a delight and is quite captivating . . superb in the showers of sparks and tiptoe attack of the middle movement.
(International (Musicweb International June 2010)
Splendidly idiomatic performance from the New Haven Symphony Orchestra of Walton's iconic Violin Concerto. Kurt Nikkanen is a clean-cut yet warmly expressive soloist.
(Gramophone: Edward Greenfield's Critics' Choice for 2010)
The Violin Concerto is surely one of the 20th century's finest romantic concertos and is marvellously well played here by the American violinist Kurt Nikkanen.
(Michael Kennedy writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Aug. 2010)
THOMAS ADES' VIOLIN CONCERTO
New York City Ballet Orchestra / Faycal Karoui
Recently during Wayne McGregor's new ballet "Outlier" choreographed to Mr Adès's hyperkinetic violin concerto, I was impressed by the orchestra's dynamic music making and by the brilliant soloist Kurt Nikkanen.
(Anthony Tommasini writing in The New York Times, June 2010)
Kurt Nikkanen gave a furiously committed account of the solo part.
(The New Yorker, June 2010)
MAX BRUCH's SCOTTISH FANTASY
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra/Tom Woods
"Night of outstanding playing"
Kurt Nikkanen captured the sweet lyricism and contrasting virtuosic passages with aplomb.
(Rosemary Turnbull writing in The N.Z. Press, June 2010)
WILLIAM WALTON's VIOLIN CONCERTO
New Haven Symphony Orchestra/William Boughton
"Crowd -pleasing violinist Kurt Nikkanen and NHSO in fine form for opener"
Nikkanen shaped the elaborate violin lines with flare and finesse. He projected a glistening, soulful tone in the high passages. Nikkanen was a convincing virtuoso and scored a hit with the audience.
(New Haven Register, September 2009)
WORLD PREMIERE OF MIKKO HEINIO's "ALLA MADRE" CONCERTO
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra/Petri Sakari
Violinist Kurt Nikkanen demonstrated his skills vividly. In the interview preceding the concert, he proved to be a particularly intelligent player and on stage, he confirmed his status as a brilliant musician. Nikkanen's tonal world was rich and broad: technically he met the challenges of the work with absolute mastery.
(Turun Sanomat, May 2008)
THOMAS WILSON's VIOLIN CONCERTO
National Youth Orchestra of Scotland/Howard Williams
American violinist Kurt Nikkanen gave a spellbinding interpretation of Wilson's concerto; an enthralling performance of this superb piece.
(Glasgow Herald, January 2008)
Nikkanen's belief in the Wilson Concerto was emblazoned over his performance with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
(The Financial Times, January 2008)
ARNOLD SCHÖNBERG's VIOLIN CONCERTO
Joensuu & Jyväskylä Symphony Orchestras/Esa Heikkilä
Kurt Nikkanen was quite at home with the violin concerto . . . the American violinist's sublime technique suggested complete ease, even when faced with the almost impossible challenges the work presents. The solo and cadenzas sparkled with a sort of joy. the left hand pizzicati with fabulous accompanying bowing technique and all the rest of the Paganini-like display of virtuosity, albeit now in an Expressionist context. The collaboration between soloist, conductor and orchestra kept the audience spellbound.
(Keskisuomalainen, September 2008)
JOHN CORIGLIANO's SUITE FROM THE RED VIOLIN
Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera/Andrea Quinn
File the name Kurt Nikkanen away in your memory!
Kurt Nikkanen has mastered the violin with an uncommonly well-balanced blend of virtuoso playing and musical fingertip sensitivity . . . . the brilliant play of Kurt Nikkanen and an orchestra riding the swell of inspiration.
(Vasterbotten Courier, September 2006)
Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Spalding
Only the most gifted violinists need apply to play this dazzler. Kurt Nikkanen was simply terrific in the daunting solo part. He is an artist to be reckoned with. Nikkanen’s rich lava of tone, deep Russian rubato and fiercely virtuosic aplomb are pure dynamite. His all out, heated intensity of expression was stunning.
(Miami Herald, December 2005)
RECORDING OF VIOLIN CONCERTOS BY TCHAIKOVSKY AND GLAZUNOV
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Simonov COLLINS CLASSICS
These thoughtful, brilliantly played and immaculately tuned performances naturally take their place amongst the very best now available. Nikkanen makes a silvery, sweet sound that even Oistrakh would have been proud of and possesses the sort of effortless, unforced technique which brings to mind only the very finest players of the past. Interpretatively this young man clearly knows exactly where he is going, so much so that although I must have heard these golden phrases turned literally hundreds of times by dozens of different players, they are here invested with such natural spontaneity and expressive sincerity that it was as if one were hearing them for the first time. Definitely one of my "Records of the Year”.
TCHAIKOVSKY's VIOLIN CONCERTO
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Queen’s Hall Edinburgh
Kurt Nikkanen’s Tchaikovsky swirled with rude health. The violin concerto emerged, perhaps exactly as the composer intended: passionate, red-blooded, slightly ridiculous in the intensity of its expression. Nikkanen is a tremendous, virtuosic player who let the melodies weep and had smoking vodka lace the rattling passage work.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Bridgewater Hall
All the superlatives associated with Kurt Nikkanen have long since been exhausted but his performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto was simply brilliant. His expressive phrasing, remarkable finger agility and range of tones, from velvet softness to barbed-wire hardness was thrilling stuff.
(Manchester Evening News)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN's VIOLIN CONCERTO
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Gasteig Munich
Kurt Nikkanen played the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at the Gasteig Philharmonie truly bewitchingly: with complete nobility, with a deliberately vital, genuine tone, without any pressure and cheap affectation in the second theme. Thus, this often played piece at last won back its nobility.
EDWARD ELGAR'S VIOLIN CONCERTO
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest/Jeffrey Tate
Nikkanen manages to probe the very essence of this moving music with his immensely warm and glowing tone – which expresses virtually all types of human emotion. Thanks to his rich vibrato and powerful bowing technique, he more than matched the orchestra which, under its Music Director Jeffrey Tate, gave one of the most memorable performances of the last few years.
MOZART's THIRD VIOLIN CONCERTO
Mostly Mozart Festival/Gerard Schwarz/Kennedy Center
Then along comes an artist who can surprise, who can make us look again at music’s most astonishing genius. Kurt Nikkanen is such an artist and his debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival was a worthy match of music and musician. His tone was supple, rich and warm. His intonation was flawless and his dynamic control breathtaking. But above this virtuoso’s technical prowess was an even finer gift. He made this music sing. Mr Nikkanen caressed his way into a phrase, unafraid of either vibrato or feeling. The barest whisper of violin commanded attention. His way with rubato revealed him as a magician who could bend a phrase and make time stand still in a dimension of his own creation.
ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV's VIOLIN CONCERTO
BBC Proms/Philharmonia/Vladimir Ashkenazy/Royal Albert Hall
Thursday’s Prom given by the Philharmonia under Vladimir Ashkenazy was remarkable for the dashing Proms debut of the American violinist Kurt Nikkanen. He compelled attention in Glazunov’s concerto from the very opening bars, tempering its sweet-toothed lyricism with musical intelligence and forcefulness. On this evidence there is certainly more to Nikkanen than gorgeous tone and a superlative technique.
EXPRESSIONS RECITAL SERIES, WELLINGTON, N.Z.
with Rosemary Barnes (piano)
the playing had such style and panache . . . a stimulating concert.
(Classical Music Reviews, Wellington, June 2010)
VANCOUVER RECITAL SERIES
with R Sharon (piano)
Kurt Nikkanen wows the crowd with violin mastery worthy of Heifetz. The sensational Connecticut-born violinist opened the Vancouver Recital Society’s new season and the audience were even giving bravos to the encores – for once, justifiably. An amazing talent, he seems to have it all: technique to burn, wonderful musicality, bravura (even, unfairly, looks) and on top of that, evident dignity.
(Vancouver Sun, Oct. 1991)
Coolidge Auditorium/Library of Congress/B Anderson (piano)
To listen to Kurt Nikkanen play the violin is to understand what musical clarity is about. Every moment of his performance was lucid, elegant and full of fascinating musical ideas put across decisively. From the clean powerful attacks in Stravinsky’s Divertimento, to the closing bon-bon, Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, Nikkanen played with a flawless, poised technique. In this artist’s performance Stravinsky was witty and irresistible, the complex rhythms played with vigour. Even more notable was Bartok’s Sonata for Solo Violin, played with a simplicity that allowed the serious, intense climaxes to build and subside with an inevitability that kept the audience hanging on every note.
(The Washington Post, March 1989 )
SIBELIUS VIOLIN CONCERTO
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Jerzy Maksymiuk
Kurt Nikkanen is not merely another star from the Juilliard’s school of wunderkind violinists – he plays with an intense love of the music and an absolute awareness of how his solo line marries with the orchestral writing. In Sibelius’s awkward, uneasy concerto, where the melodies seem like trails of snow thawing unevenly into the musical texture, such sensitivity is crucial. Nikkanen deeply impressed.
(Mary Miller writing in The Scotsman, Nov. 1992)
I have a lot of time for American violinist Kurt Nikkanen . . . he really goes for it. The bristling sense of adventure and danger he brings to music is what the concert hall is all about.
(Michael Tumelty writing in the Glasgow Herald, Nov. 1992)