Kian Soltani | Biography

Kian Soltani Biography

Kian Soltani
© Holger Hage
Please note that because of the Covid−19 pandemic, we are currently unable to provide reliable information about forthcoming live performances.
“His cello sound has the fuzz and richness of caramel, and he plays with an easy warmth … drawing [the orchestra] after him like a halo around a candle flame.” The Washington Post, March 2019
New worlds of imagination appear whenever Kian Soltani makes music. A sense of individuality, depth of expression and charismatic presence are among the elements of the young Austrian cellist’s captivating artistry. Rave reviews and invitations to perform at the world’s leading concert halls have propelled the 28-year-old musician from rising star to one of the most exciting musicians of his generation. Soltani’s status was confirmed in 2017 when he not only won both Germany’s prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award (February) and the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award (December), but also signed an exclusive contract to record for Deutsche Grammophon (July).
His debut DG album, Home, comprising works for cello and piano by Schubert, Schumann and Reza Vali, was released to widespread critical acclaim in February 2018: The Strad called it a “brilliant debut”, praising Soltani for his “flawless technique” and “mature and elegant” playing. August 2018 saw the release of his recordings of Mozart’s two Piano Quartets made live at the Boulez Saal with Yulia Deyneka and Daniel and Michael Barenboim (“engagingly alive performances” – Financial Times). Last year he joined forces again with Daniel and Michael Barenboim to record the complete Mozart Piano Trios for a 2CD album which was released in September (“brimming over with infectious spontaneity and bonhomie” – BBC Music Magazine).
Set for release on 7 August 2020, Soltani’s latest album is devoted to Dvořák. As well as the famous Cello Concerto, for which he is accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim, it features five other pieces by the composer in arrangements for solo cello and cello ensemble. Recorded with the cellists of the Staatskapelle Berlin, three of these arrangements are by Soltani himself – Allegro moderato from Romantic Pieces op.75, “Lasst mich allein” from the 4 Lieder op.82 and “Songs my Mother Taught Me” from Gypsy Melodies op.55.
Kian Soltani was born in Bregenz in 1992 to a family of Persian musicians. He began playing the cello at the age of four and was only twelve when he joined Ivan Monighetti’s class at the Basel Music Academy. He remained with Monighetti for eleven years, absorbing enduring lessons from the last person to study with Mstislav Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory. He made his international breakthrough in 2011 at the age of nineteen with acclaimed debuts in the Vienna Musikverein’s Goldener Saal and at the Hohenems Schubertiade. He attracted further worldwide attention in April 2013 as winner of the International Paulo Cello Competition in Helsinki. Chosen as a Mutter Foundation scholarship holder in 2014, he completed further studies at Germany’s Kronberg Academy as a member of its Young Soloist Programme, as well as at the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein.
In addition to his work as concerto soloist and chamber musician, Soltani flourished as principal cello of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO), and in 2015 joined Daniel Barenboim as one of the soloists in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, performing the work with the WEDO in Berlin, at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, at the BBC Proms in London, and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Other early career highlights include tours with Anne-Sophie Mutter and her Mutter’s Virtuosi; performances of Strauss’s Don Quixote on tour with the WEDO and Barenboim beginning in 2017; and his participation in the opening week of Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in March 2017 as well as the concert of Persian music he gave there with the Shiraz Ensemble two months later.
Having joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood on 25 August 2018 to take part in the Bernstein centennial gala concert, Soltani made his solo debut at the Berlin Staatsoper with Barenboim and the Staatskapelle that October, and went on to give a series of concerts in the US with Barenboim and the WEDO; these included his Carnegie Hall debut as well as appearances at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center and LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. During the 2018–19 season he also gave performances at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Stockholm Concert Hall, London’s Royal Festival Hall and Cadogan Hall, the latter as part of his 2019 residency with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the Ravinia Festival, making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Itzhak Perlman. As a recitalist he made acclaimed appearances at, among others, the Philharmonie de Paris, Vienna Konzerthaus, Elbphilharmonie, Pierre Boulez Saal, Carnegie Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as at the Salzburg Mozart Week and Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, New York.
Highlights of the 2019–20 season included his debut with the Orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing (October); performances as Artist in Residence with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (October/November 2019); recitals with Barenboim father and son at the Pierre Boulez Saal (December 2019); and Haydn’s First Cello Concerto with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as part of the Konzerthaus Dortmund’s re‑opening concert (June 2020).
His future plans include a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto with Michael Barenboim, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim at this summer’s Salzburg Festival; his debut with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (September 2020); and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Renaud Capuçon, Lahav Shani and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (October).
Soltani plays the “London ex Boccherini 1694” Stradivarius, thanks to a generous loan.