Oxana Yablonskaya's charismatic piano playing and profound interpretations have brought her acclaim for over thirty years. Known for her powerhouse virtuosity, exquisite sensitivity, and deep emotional drive, Ms. Yablonskaya has enchanted audiences world-wide.
Oxana Yablonskaya was born in Moscow. As an adolescent she attended The Moscow Central School for the Gifted under the tutelage of Anaida Sumbatyan (who also taught Vladimir Ashkenazy) with whom she worked with until the age of 16. She later studied at the Conservatory of Moscow with the legendary Aleksandre Goldenweiser. At 22, she began a professional relationship with Tatiana Nikolayeva in the Doctorate Program, later acting as her assistant at the Moscow Conservatory. Following graduation with high honors, she was introduced to the Western World in Paris at the Jacques Long-Thibaud Competition in 1963, the Rio de Janeiro Competition in 1965, and the Vienna Beethoven Competition in 1969. She won top prizes in all three competitions, and received numerous invitations for return engagements, but because of the Cold War, was not allowed to do so.
While still in the USSR, Ms. Yablonskaya performed Shostakovich's Piano Concerto #1 with the Moscow Philharmonic under conductor Yury Simonov at the Composers Jubilee Concert in the Kremlin. She was the first performer to play Rodion Shchedrin's "Basso Ostinato," which became her signature piece. Her status as a consummate professional was heightened by many prominent Soviet and foreign composers dedicating their music to her.
Despite the reputation she had earned within the Soviet Union and being a prize winner of three international competitions, she was never permitted to play outside the Eastern Bloc. Yet, she recorded for the Melodya label and had earned the prestigious title of Soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic. The title put her in the company of elite artists such as Gilels, Richter, Rostropovich, Oistrakh and Kogan. Outstanding solo performances with the Bolshoi Orchestra, the Moscow Stars series, and the Shostokovich 65th Birthday Celebration Concert were confirmations of her remarkable talent.
In 1975, distressed over constant restraints on her personal and artistic freedom, she applied for a U.S. visa. Her actions resulted in a loss of her position as a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. She inherently was deprived of all concert engagements. She waited more than two years for a visa and finally, she was allowed to leave the country with her father and young son due to the diligence and petitioning by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Katherine Hepburn, Bar Ilan, and over 45 famous writers, musicians, senators, and actors.
Ms. Yablonskaya arrived in New York in 1977, unknown, unheralded, and not having touched a piano in more than two years. She made her first New York appearance in a recital at the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center only four months later, and received laudatory acclaim from the press. Her Carnegie Hall debut recital the following October was attended by a capacity crowd, and she has since taken her place among the major pianists of the world.
Once considered 'The best kept secret of the Soviet Union,' Ms. Yablonskaya has now performed in more than 40 countries.
Following her triumph at her London recital debut in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1982, the Daily Telegraph wrote: "Yablonskaya is the sort of pianist who accomplishes with ease and naturalness what others struggle for a lifetime to achieve." In 1986, following her Canadian performance with the National Symphony under conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, a music critic of the Toronto Star wrote, "She played Rachmaninoff's 3rd as if it was written for her.