She seems a throwback in many ways, with a very physical, even visceral quality to her music that conjures the sound of such golden-age figures as Horovitz and Cortot, with a naturalness that seems to have always been there. (...) Gourari's technique and tone are excellent (...) The marvel of this playing is the combination of intuitive pacing, propulsive phrasing, and rhythmic inflection that makes this music spring to life with explosive power. The melding of physicality and thoughtfulness arises again and again in this playing; every note has a purpose. (...) In the person of Anna Gourari, the great Russian school of pianism lives on. (FANFARE (USA)
Anna Gourari, born in Kazan (Russia), is established as an outstanding pianist and one of the most exceptional personalities of her generation. Her playing has been described as "technically perfect" and "dazzling", with an "almost perfect blend of fiery attack and poetic magic", performing "with pure intellectual freedom". As the "individualist of the 21st century" she defies any attempt to categorize
her: the fascinating combination of two eminent piano schools finds its magical expression in her personal pianistic language. Anna Gourari began piano lessons at the age of five, and from 1979 attended a special school for gifted children in her home town, studying with Kira Shashkina, the teacher of Mikhail Pletnëv, and giving her first recital in the same year. Later she also received lessons from Vera Gornostaeva, a pupil of Neuhaus and teacher of Ivo Pogorelich.
In 1990 Anna Gourari moved to Germany to study at the Munich Hochschule für Musik with Ludwig Hoffmann. She has won many distinctions including the first prizes at the Kabalevsky Competition in Russia (1986) and the first International Chopin Competition in Göttingen (1990), a bursary from the "Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes", the "Staatliche Förderungspreis" for young musicians (2000), the ECHO Klassik 2000 „Promising Young Artist“ prize for her first Scriabin recording and the ECHO Klassik 2001 "Instrumentalist Of The Year" prize for her recording of two piano concertos by Richard Strauss.
"She plays Beethoven's third Piano Concerto with a rapt intensity. Right at the beginning she achieves a small miracle (...) a few chords, woven like a curtain about to go up on a quiet paradise in waiting. She performs the piece with a restrained voice, as if telling a story. She is reminiscent of the young Clara Haskil. This is how Anna Gourari won the Clara Schumann Competition." Thus Die Zeit reported the final concert of a competition in which Anna Gourari was awarded first prize by a distinguished jury including Martha Argerich, Joachim Kaiser, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nelson Freire and Alexis Weissenberg, whom she had won over by the power of her "almost mystical" playing.
Recent highlights were solo recitals in Baden-Baden Festspielhaus and Vienna Konzerthaus and the successful concert tour with St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra including München, Stuttgart, Köln, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main etc. Anna Gourari also played concerts in China and Japan. Anna Gourari has performed at many of the major musical venues and is regularly invited to perform with leading orchestras and at international festivals. Her triumphant progress across the international stage is reflected by European concert tours and collaboration with conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Colin Davis and Iván Fischer. Her special interest in 20th century music is shown in her numerous recordings of works by Sergey Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith, Béla Bartók and Francis Poulenc, and by contemporary composers such as Günther Bialas, Wilfried Hiller, Jörg Widmann, Sofia Gubaidulina and Rodion Shchedrin. Jörg Widmann dedicated to her the Piano Sonata after Baudelaire “Fleurs de Mal” and Rodion Shchedrin wrote for her the piano suite “Diary”. Her recordings were released on KOCH Classics and on Decca/Universal.
“You don’t make music, you are music” Werner Herzog said. The legendary German film and opera director hired her for the female main role in “Invincible” (with Tim Roth, Udo Kier and Max Raabe; Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer). The movie had its very successful international premiere at Venice Film Festival in 2001.
In February 2007 Anna Gourari returned to Russia for the first time after more than 16 years. For the Deutsche Welle-TV she made six documentary-like short films entitled “Anna Gourari – my Russia” about art and culture in our days in Moscow, portraying her first piano teacher and the music school in Moscow, visiting the studio of famous painter Erik Bulatov who also returned to Moscow after many years, visiting fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin, researching traditions in the old city of Suzdal etc...
Here’s a new name for you and, if there is any justica in the world, you will be encountering it again. (...) Yes, we know all about these competition pianists. Gourari is different. She has, of course, the big technique needed for competition winners. But she also produces a lovely sound, she never bangs, her music-making has her own mark on it, and she takes a very personal view about the music she plays, never hesitating to modify tempos, never losing the basic rhythms, adding inflections and accents that are not always written into the scores but that 19th-Century composers expected of their interpreters. She is free but never eccentric. Quite a handful (...) she is outstanding. She has a Friedmanesque approach to the music, free but controlled. (Harold Schonberg, USA)