Gabriela Montero’s extraordinary ability as an improviser, rare in the classical world, is fast becoming her trademark. Following her critically acclaimed Rachmaninov, Chopin, de Falla, Scriabin, Liszt recital disc and her Bach and Beyond improvisational album for EMI Classics, Montero recorded a CD of Baroque improvisations at London’s Abbey Road Studios in June 2007.
Gabriela takes some of the best known Baroque themes, including Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, Albinoni’s Adagio, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Boccherini’s Minuet and Handel’s Water Music, and brings to her classy improvisations the same passion, poetic musicality and sense of structure that she brings to classical works. And as The New York Times reported following one of Gabriela’s improvisational evenings, “no matter how complex the variations, the original melody always emerges triumphantly from a musical tapestry that might weave blues, jazz, tango and Debussy into a multihued framework.”
Gabriela Montero was born in Caracas, Venezuela and performed in public for the first time at the age of five. Three years later, she made her concerto debut with the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra. She was subsequently awarded a scholarship from the Venezuelan government to study in the United States. Despite winning a number of competitions, including the Bronze Medal at the 13th International Chopin Piano Competition, Gabriela kept her improvisational skills under wraps until Martha Argerich heard her and was “ecstatic,” giving her a ringing endorsement: “I have rarely come across a talent like Gabriela’s. She is a unique artist” as well as personal encouragement. Montero says, “Martha persuaded me that it was possible to combine my career as a serious ‘classical’ artist with the side of me that is rather unique.”
Since then, Gabriela has performed extensively in North and South America, Europe and Asia, both in recital and as a concerto soloist. As encores, she began to invite audience members to suggest themes on which she improvised in a wide variety of styles, letting her musical imagination take over. “It is the most natural and spontaneous way I can express myself,” she says. “I connect with my audience in a completely unique way – and they connect with me.” Montero won the Echo Klassik 2006 award as “Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year” for her EMI recital disc.
Upcoming dates include festival appearances at Caramoor (U.S.), Lockenhaus (Germany), Colmar (France), Verbier (Switzerland) and the Hollywood Bowl (Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the L.A. Philharmonic), followed by recitals in Warsaw, Lisbon, Washington, D.C. and Düsseldorf.