Pianist and Composer Hüseyin Sermet is widely regarded as one of the most exceptional pianists of our time, and is particularly acclaimed for his extraordinary lyricism and attention to detail, known with his “endless shades of pianissimo.” His technique is equally beyond reproach, as noted by a review on Bachtrack, which highlighted how “Sermet’s detached phrasing and reserved pedal proved ideal.” The Gramophone praised Sermet’s album of Ravel’s piano concertos, describing it as “Not only a virtuoso, Sermet extracts every ounce of poetry from Ravel’s two concertos.”
Among his extensive repertoire, he is particularly recognized for his distinctive interpretations of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 (Orchestra Rai, J. Valčuha) and Piano Concerto No.5 (Sinfonia Varsovia, Krzysztof Penderecki); Bartók’s Piano Concerto No.2 (NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo) and Piano Concerto No. 3 (Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Naoto Otomo); Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (Orchestre national de Lyon, Emmanuel Krivine) and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2(Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Pablo Heras-Casado). Such is the case with his performance of Ravel’s left-hand concerto with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Roger Norrington at the Philharmonie Berlin, which was recently featured on BR-KLASSIK’s ARD-Nachtkonzert program.
Sermet has performed as a soloist with major orchestras worldwide, including the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Peter Inkinen, Trondheim Symfoniorkester and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra both with Krzysztof Urbański, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra with Michel Plasson, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai with Tito Ceccherini, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia with Sir Neville Marriner, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz with Benjamin Reiners, London Philharmonic Orchestra with Vladimir Jurowski, Orchestre de Paris, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks with Lorin Maazel, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra with Lawrence Foster, Bamberger Symphoniker, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de l’Île de France, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, and Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, among many others. Furthermore, he has collaborated with renowned conductors such as Alain Lombard, Antal Doráti, Yoël Levi, Semyon Bychkov, Jonathan Nott, James Gaffigan, Antal Dorati, and Hans Graf, as well as notable instrumentalists including Maria João Pires, Mstislav Rostropovich, Tedi Papavrami, and Gautier and Renaud Capuçon.
Hüseyin Sermet has a vast discography with Naïve, harmonia mundi, and Erato, with many recordings earning significant international awards. Notable examples include his collection of Ravel’s solo piano works, three albums dedicated to Alkan, each winning a Diapason d’Or de l’Année, a collaborative album with Maria João Pires featuring Schubert’s works for four hands, and his recording of Liszt’s Piano Sonata and late works, which was recognized as one of the top four recordings of the Liszt sonata by a group of renowned critics brought together by Classica music magazine. Additionally, Sermet has brought to light lesser-known French compositions and made the first CD recording of Florent Schmitt’s Symphonie Concertante with the Monte Carlo Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson. According to Sermet, “To become a musician, it is essential to possess a certain level of consciousness and imagination. A sound must call out to you. Even if you seek guidance from countless teachers, without this desire for a particular sound, your efforts will not yield anything noteworthy.”
Sermet has regularly performed across the United States, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, and Mexico, delivering memorable concerts in some of the world’s most renowned venues including La Scala, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Salle Pleyel, Palau de la Música, Teatro Comunale, London’s International Piano Series, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Paris’ Cité de la Musique, Munich’s Cuvilliés-Theater, Lisbon’s Dias da Musica, Copenhagen’s Tivoli, National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and the Oxford and Lille Piano festivals. He has also been invited many times to participate in several notable music festivals, such as Menton, Montreux, La Roque d’Anthéron, Santander, Cervantino, Yokohama, Osaka, Athens, Istanbul and Días de Música (Lisbon). Recently, he received great acclaim for his solo recital at the SWR2 Internationale Pianisten in Mainz.
Sermet is also an accomplished composer who received the Lili Boulanger Award for his first string quartet. He studied composition at the Conservatoire de Paris with Olivier Messiaen, and privately with Henri Dutilleux. His first major composition Réminiscènce I was premiered at the Empéri Festival in 1997 and broadcast live by France Musique. A commission from Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Dream and Nightmare, was premiered in 2004. Sculptures I (Work for two pianos (8 hands), celesta, vibraphone, marimba 5 octaves, bells, timpani, triangle, drum, bass clarinet in b flat, contrabassoon) and Réminiscence II: Az kaldı bayram ola (Work for two pianos (8 hands), harpsichord and percussion instruments) are among his notable compositions. According to him, “Regardless of the musical style, whether it’s atonal or tonal, the crucial factor is to express one’s culture and heritage in a universal manner.”
Hüseyin Sermet is not only an accomplished pianist and composer but also a dedicated mentor to young musicians. He has been highly praised for his appearances in Japan and was featured in a series of 15 televised masterclasses with young pianists that were broadcast throughout the country by NHK TV.
Sermet has served as a jury member for several prestigious international piano competitions, including the 20th Santander International Piano Competition, where he himself had received the first prize back in 1976. He received numerous awards at other competitions, including the Maurice Ravel, Santander Paloma O’Shea, Jaen, José Iturbi, Palma de Mallorca Chopin, Lili Boulanger, Ettore Pozzoli, Francesco Paola Neglia, Queen Elizabeth, and Geza Anda piano competitions, as well as at the Munich and Paris Chamber Music competitions.
Born in Istanbul in 1955, Sermet’s education began at the Ankara State Conservatoire and continued at the Paris Conservatoire and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where he studied with Thierry de Brunhoff, Nadia Boulanger, and with Maria Curcio in London.