Delos DE 3574
Available August 14, 2020: https://delosmusic.com/recording/rachmaninoff-barber-cello-sonatas/
Cellist Jonah Kim and pianist Sean Kennard have been making music together since they were teenagers at the Curtis Institute of Music and together they have played almost every sonata in the standard repertoire. These two sonatas hold a special place for them: the Rachmaninoff was the first sonata they played together, and they received coaching at Curtis from Kim's former teacher Orlando Cole, who premiered Barber's sonata with the composer himself at the piano.
Both sonatas shine as big, romantic works with broad, rhapsodic strokes and soaring melodies. Kim and Kennard give stunning performances, singling out these brilliant young performers as two of the best in their generation.
Sean collaborated with cellist Jonah Kim and SF Ballet dancer Julia Rowe in a music video filmed at San Fransisco's Palace of Fine Arts, performing Schubert's Auf dem Wasser zu singen. Click here to watch.
Sean was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts by Yale University at their 2020 commencement ceremony. He was among seven candidates this year who were conferred Yale School of Music's most prestigious degree. He began the program in 2014 and finished the residency two years later. In October 2019, after completing the three year dissertation period, he was invited back to campus for his final degree recital and exit exam.
With Chadley Ballantyne, baritone
Elizabeth Hall, Stetson University
University Club of Winter Park
Ball State University
Ball State University
Sean Kennard has won top prizes in the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium), the International Music Competition of Viña del Mar (Chile), the Vendome International Piano Competition (Portugal), the Sendai International Music Competition (Japan), the Hilton Head International Piano Competition (USA), the National Chopin Competition, the Iowa Piano Competition, the American Pianists Association, and the International Chopin Competition of the Pacific.
The Washington Post praised Kennard’s “powerful and involved music making,” describing him as “a strong luminous pianist.” His 2011 debut album received a rave review in American Record Guide, which pronounced it “a hidden gem,” attesting to its “perfect blend of lyricism and romantic passion,” “huge romantic sound, and bold melodic vision.” It proclaimed that he “plays the dickens out of the Stravinsky [Three Movements from Petrushka]” and “plays Chopin’s Preludes with more poise and vision than most pianists who have recorded them.” Fanfare affirmed the enthusiastic reception, naming the album “a very desirable disc” and citing “Kennard’s mastery of Chopin’s idiom,” its “impression of complete effortlessness” and “emotional responsiveness.” The review characterized his playing as “full of life and sparkle,” summing up: “while I wouldn't necessarily say that Kennard outclasses Ashkenazy, Rubinstein, Moravec, Ohlsson…in this repertoire, he surely equals them.”