“A particular genius.” City Pulse, May 2013

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Wednesday, May 22,2013

‘A particular genius’

Pianist Sergei Kvitko’s road to Carnegie Hall

by Lawrence Cosentino

Sergei Kvitko strangled his water bottle and looked at the clock. It was just before 7 p.m. on April 30, and he was due on stage at 7:30 for a grueling solo piano concert at Michigan State University’s Cook Recital Hall.

That night, the hall was sold out and people were turned away. (A second concert, a week later, was added.) But Kvitko wasn’t smiling. Before a concert, when no one is around, he often addresses the floor thus: “Why the fuck do I do this to myself?”

Racing the biological clock, Kvitko was marking his 45th birthday by training for a debut recital on Thursday at Carnegie Hall. He was hustling down his self-imposed “road to Carnegie” Midwest tour, with 14 stops in two months, with typical Kvitko overkill.

Kvitko isn’t a career pianist, but when he plays, he leaves sweat — and occasionally blood — on the keyboard. His signature piece, the epic “Pictures at an Exhibition,” is a hallucinogenic promenade in an imaginary gallery where visitors are sucked into the art on the walls. No Kvitko recital is perfect, but they are overpoweringly real, part artistry, part confession, part bullfight.