Anton Batagov (born October 10, 1965) is a Russian pianist and post-minimalist composer.
Heralded as “one of the most significant and unusual figures of Russian contemporary music” (Newsweek, Russian edition, 1997) and “the greatest pianist of our time” (Crescendo magazine, Germany, 2017) Anton Batagov is one of the most influential Russian composers and performers of our time.
A graduate of the Gnessin School and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and prize-winner at the International Tchaikovsky Competition (1986) and other competitions, Batagov introduced the music by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass to Russian audiences. His debut album, a 160-minute recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’Enfant Jesus (Melodiya, 1990), became a major sensation. Three years later a well-known American musicologist Richard Kostelanetz characterized Batagov’s 1993 recording of Bach’s The Art of the Fugue as “the most stunning interpretation of Bach since Glenn Gould.”
His interpretations of classical and contemporary music distinguish themselves with expert knowledge of traditions and the history of culture. At the same time, they radically change habitual conceptions of these works, and even of the very foundations of musical art.
From 1989 to 1996 Batagov was the artistic director of the legendary festival of contemporary music Alternativa. The influence of Batagov’s work on the understanding of classical and new music and on the artistic tendencies in Russia has been tremendous.
In 1997 Batagov stopped performing live for 12 years to focus on composition and studio recordings.
As a composer, Batagov has his own unique voice. The post-minimalist language of his compositions is rooted in the harmonic and rhythmic patterns of Russian church bells and folk songs seamlessly mixed with the spirit of Buddhist philosophy, the dynamic pulse of early Soviet avant-garde, and the unfading appeal of progressive rock. The philosophy of Batagov’s projects eliminates any boundaries between “performance” and “composition” by viewing all existing musical practices—from ancient rituals to rock and pop culture and advanced computer technologies—as elements of his work. His discography includes over 50 albums. Batagov is the author of several movie soundtracks, and original music for major Russian TV channels.
In 2009 he returned to live performances. Since then, he has been performing a series of unique solo piano programs. He repertoire includes works by Bach, Pachelbel, Purcell and early English music, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy, as well as many other composers, and his own numerous piano compositions. Batagov is one of the key performers of piano works by Philip Glass. Batagov’s recordings and live performances of Glass include The complete Etudes, Batagov’s piano arrangements of scenes from Einstein on the Beach and Koyaanisqatsi, music from The Hours, Distant figure (a composition written by Philip Glass for and premiered by Anton Batagov), and other works.
Anton Batagov’s compositions have been performed by outstanding Russian classical and rock musicians and orchestras. The critics and audiences call his concerts and recordings “a revelation”.
The Greatest Pianist of Our Time . His performance transcends the material world. (Crescendo magazine, Germany)
Batagov paints whole worlds on the piano.
(Time Out New York)
Batagov shakes up our notion of what a solo piano recital can sound like.
(The Gathering Note, Seattle)
Batagov somehow managed to bring the atmosphere of confidence back to the classical concert hall. It had been lost long time ago. It’s a tremendous victory no one has expected. It’s a unique chance for classical music. The next one will not happen again soon.
(Novaya Gazeta, Russia)
The most significant musical event on the year; a landmark work that changed the coordinate system of the classical music scene.