“Indeed, versatility might be considered the quintessence of Giunta’s art, and in this regard she seems to have found the perfect accompanist in Michael Sikich….whose experience and range resulted here in accompaniments characterised by a soft but sure touch, precise but animated rhythms, and a latent friskiness that always supported and never overpowered the singer….The pianos’ running melodies chased each other with a propelling sway, and a contrasting section of similar-motion chains provided a temporary still centre above while Sikich’s high right hand indulged Bernstein’s melodic explorations with quasi-improvisatory grace.”
The Arts Desk:
"[El-Turk's setting is] an unexpected little thriller that flies past using every possible sonority, beginning with pianist Michael Sikich just audibly stroking but not playing the keys of the Steinway. From there, the usually breakneck piano writing turns fiendishly tricky (carried off with serious aplomb) while the vocal line zips along, as chirruped, bleated and trilled as it is sung. With as many rhythmic changes – and finger clicks – as Bernstein himself might have used, the piece felt not only idiosyncratic (harder and less common than one might imagine) but also – a serious rarity – properly witty."
"The concert also included the UK premiere of Bernstein’s ballet Conch Town, for two pianos and percussion, for which Sikich was joined by fellow pianist Iain Farrington and percussionists Toby Kearney and Owen Gunnell…The performance was exemplary in its bravado and panache."
"The culinary theme of the concert centred around Bernstein’s La bonne cuisine, a miniature song cycle setting the texts of four cookbook recipes…Giunta and Sikich were in particularly fine form for this work, with crystal-clear articulation and nicely contrasted musical styles between the songs. This song cycle formed the inspiration for Bushra El-Turk’s Crème Brûlée on a Tree, commissioned by the BBC and receiving its world première today...Performed with wit and physicality by Giunta and Sikich, the piece was perfectly balanced between challenging and entertaining its audience, and based on the raucous laughter and applause seems destined to become a hit."
"...vividly accompanied by Michael Sikich..."
The Herald Times:
"The principal pianist, Michael Sikich, was superb in his beginning-to-end collaboration with the singers. His duties never stopped and, somewhere in the middle, included a lengthy and absolutely lovely interlude."
Seen and Heard
"Michael Sikich’s throbbing piano throughout was very impressive....Equally impressive was pianist Michael Sikich providing some suitably accentuated and fragrant Saint-Saëns."
"Sikich then took us through a brief, yet fascinating, exploration of the opening of Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), explaining how Wagner used and developed the leitmotifs, outlining the orchestration, and showing us what he meant on the piano. And yes – he did manage to create Wagner’s sound world, purely by differentiating the way he played.
Our hosts rounded off the evening in the only fitting way possible – the final pages from Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), played on two pianos – and the effect was spellbinding. The Rhine swelled, Valhalla went up in flames, and order was restored to the world.
Educational, inspiring, and brilliantly conceived, it’s encouraging to know that Wagner will be in safe hands at the ROH for years to come. Roll on the Barrie Kosky Ring!"