Yuri Bashmet is probably the top rated violist, the best known of famous viola players. He is famous for his technical abilities as well as for his expressive playing.
The first time I heard him perform was in Milan, when I was a student. He played Bartok viola concerto with La Scala orchestra and I was very impressed by the variety of sonorities he was able to create.
At that time a solo viola concert was a rarity indeed. After that time I heard him perform several times and I was always fascinated.
From the video below you can get an idea of his expressive playing.
On other pages on this website you can find more videos with Yuri Bashmet.
Anyway, I always prefer a live performance, you can really hear a feel all the nuances. So if you have the opportunity, go and listen to him in a concert.
Yuri Bashmet was born on 24th January in Ukraine, in the
former Soviet Union. He started to study piano and violin and switched
to the viola at 14. In his teenage years played also in a rock band. He
entered Moscow's Conservatoire where he studied with Vadim Borissowsky
and Fedor Drushinin (the violist dedicatee of Shostakovich viola sonata).
He 1976 he won
First Prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich and
started his career, although initially limited by the soviet authority.
In 1986 he founded the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra and started touring internationally more.
During his long and intense career he performed with the most famous musicians the like of Mstislav Rostropovich, Gidon Kremer, Sviatoslav Richter, Isaac Stern, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Mischa Maisky, Shlomo Mintz, Oleg Kagan, Maxim Vengerov, Maria João Pires and conductors such as Rafael Kubelík, Seiji Ozawa, Valery Gergiev, Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Yehudi Menuhin, Charles Dutoit, Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Kent Nagano, Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt to name a few.
He played with the most important orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston, Chicago and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Since founding his own orchestra, Bashmet has been conducting it
himself, performing works by contemporary composers and his own
arrangements, and also conducting the leading orchestras of the world.
Bashmet has worked a lot to enrich the viola repertoire with many compositions dedicated to him (over 50 viola concertos!), including two viola concertos by Schnittke, works by Edison Denisov and Allan Pettersson, Giya Kancheli.
Bashmet is very active also as a teacher. He started teaching at Moscow Conservatoire in 1978, has taught for many years at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in
Siena, he is president of the Lionel Tertis International Viola
Competition on the Isle of Man and is Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London.
Yuri Bashmet has recorded many CDs of viola works including piano sonatas, symphonic and chamber music works. His recordings were mad with the Russian Melodija, RCA, Sony and Deutsche Grammophon.
Bashmet has received a long a list of awards from many countries, besides his own from France, Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Belarus, including a Grammy Award (USA) – with the orchestra "Soloists of Moscow" – in the category "Best performance by small ensembles".
Go to Yuri Bashmet's page