I enjoy van Raat on recording, but given the chance to hear him again live,
I would run, not walk. Christian B. Carey, Musical America
Ralph van Raat has been completely fascinated by contemporary classical music since the age of 14. Although his repertoire ranges from Bach up to and far beyond Boulez, his primary focus has always been on composers dating from Debussy, Bartók and Ives to present day international masters. His passion is to convince audiences of the immense beauty and diversity in the music of our own time through solo recitals, lecture-recitals, concerto performances, CD-releases, media appearances and special, cross-medial projects.
Van Raat helps audiences identify with modern day composers by adhering to a classical approach: he firmly believes that a strong sense of classical structure as well as a refinement of tone is essential in conveying the logic and poetry of any music, certainly including his repertoire of choice…
…the good performance [of Frédéric Devreese’s Piano Concerto No. 4] with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, especially by the excellent soloist Ralph van Raat. NRC Handelsblad
Ralph van Raat regularly appears as a recitalist around the world, in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia as well as in the United States. Contemporary classical music is his repertoire of choice and dedication. His concerts are regularly broadcast by radio and television networks. He has been engaged for his own radio series on contemporary classical music by Dutch national broadcasting and has been honored with his own concert series by a.o. the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam and De Doelen in Rotterdam.
Van Raat has often performed as a soloist with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, the Dortmunder Philharmoniker, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and the China National Symphony Orchestra. Van Raat was Artist-in-Residence of The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in 2010. He has worked closely with conductors including Valery Gergiev, JoAnn Falletta, Susanna Mälkki, David Robertson, Peter Eötvös, Stefan Asbury, Ludovic Morlot, Tönu Kaljuste, Jeffrey Milarsky, Thierry Fischer and Otto Tausk.
He has performed as a soloist at important festivals such as at the symphonic openings concert of the Gergiev Festival, the BBC Proms, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (as part of the prestigious Credit Suisse Emerging Artist Series), the Festival International de Musique de Besançon, the Holland Festival, the Time of Music festival in Viitasaari, Finland, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK, the Berliner Festspiele and the Tanglewood Summer Festival in the United States.
His Pärt, Rzewski, Adams, Bryars and Tavener recordings have all been bestsellers, ranked among the Top 20 of bestselling Naxos albums worldwide. Celebrating Ralph van Raat on Naxos.
Ralph van Raat has had an exclusive contract with the international record label Naxos since December 2006. His first recording for Naxos, the complete piano works by John Adams, received top ratings in several magazines: Chicago Time Out (6/6 stars), Le Monde de la Musique (4/4 stars) and monthly magazine Luister (10/10 score). It was highlighted as a CD of the month in Gramophone. His second CD, with Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated was labelled a Benchmark CD in BBC Music Magazine, and Highly Recommended by Gramophone. In December 2010, within a month after its release, Van Raat’s CD with Hans Otte: Das Buch der Klänge (The Book of Sounds) was chosen as CD of the Week by Dutch public radio. Van Raat’s recording of Arvo Pärt’s piano music received a 5/5 star rating in BBC Music Magazine. His piano duo release with works by Debussy and Messiaen (Naxos 8.572472) has been nominated for the Spellemannsprisen 2012, the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy.
In 2009, an Artist Portrait CD-box was released, with van Raat’s complete Naxos recordings to date. In 2017, Naxos issued a press release worldwide:
Celebrating Ralph van Raat. In May 2020, Naxos will present his most recent recording: a treasure trove of unknown French repertoire by a.o. Debussy, Ravel and Pierre Boulez.
Ralph van Raat proves how much variation a pianist can achieve through different manners of toucher. His touch reinforces the phrasing, gives extra weight to articulation and regulates the dynamic discourse within musical phrases. With van Raat, the danger of monotony is never present; he attains every conceivable sound color. His fascination for the repertoire he performs sounds through the notes authentically, contributing to the emotional participation of his listeners. Piano Bulletin (EPTA/European Piano Teachers Association)
Many composers worldwide, including Tan Dun, David Lang, Gavin Bryars, Jacob TV, Heather Pinkham and Robin de Raaff have dedicated piano compositions and concertos to van Raat. Van Raat has collaborated directly with many composers on the interpretation of their piano works, for example, with John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Arvo Pärt, Frederic Rzewski, Tan Dun, Jonathan Harvey, Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág, Magnus Lindberg, and Sir John Tavener and Vladimir Martynov.
Ralph van Raat is quite exceptional, a much sought out recitalist and soloist, a highly regarded musicologist and a respected teacher. Lewis M. Smoley, Classical Source
Van Raat teaches contemporary piano interpretation at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He regularly gives master classes, lectures and workshops and has done so at the conservatories of Tirana, Nizhny Novgorod, Kiev, the Ligeti Academy of the ASKO/Schönberg Ensemble, etc. as well as for many other universities and institutes.
Here again, a concentrated van Raat was at work, and once more the music flourished and reached great richness, in sparkling colors with the correct accents and tension lines. Piano World
Van Raat was named a Steinway Artist by the Steinway piano company in 2003, joining an exclusive circle of renowned artists including Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang and Keith Jarrett. He records exclusively on Steinway.
At the keyboard, Ralph van Raat combined the traditional aspects of the technically complex with all the effects of the advanced tonal language in the solo part… Frankfurter Algemeine
Pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat studied with Ton Hartsuiker and Willem Brons at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and Musicology with prof. dr. Rokus de Groot at the University of Amsterdam. During his piano studies, van Raat was admitted to the select “Provision for Outstanding Musicians”, a special training course for exceptional students. He graduated Cum Laude in piano as well as in musicology. As a participant of the Advanced Program of the Conservatory of Amsterdam and funded by the Dutch cultural trust “Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund”, van Raat continued his studies with Claude Helffer in Paris, Ursula Oppens at Chicago’s Northwestern University, with Liisa Pohjola in Finland and with Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Musikhochschule in Cologne.
Ralph van Raat’s playing combines powerful projection with a neo-Romantic sensibility, focusing on important details while rarely losing sight of the music’s dynamic swell and sweep. Gramophone Magazine
In addition to winning First Prize at the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in 1999, van Raat has won a large number of prizes and awards, including an international Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship, the Philip Morris Arts Award, the Stipend-Prize during the “Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik” in Darmstadt, the Second Prize as well as the Donemus-Prize (for Contemporary Music) of the Princess Christina Competition, the Elisabeth Everts Prize, the VSCD Classical Music Prize, the Fortis MeesPierson Award of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Prijs Klassiek (Classics Prize) of the Dutch public broadcaster, NTR.