Anna Gourari is one of those rare artists who draws attention with both talent and charisma. Gourari goes her own way as an interpreter, collecting many fans along the way, but leaving some listeners vexed at her bold originality.
But no one has doubts about her formidable technique or her keen musical sense. Gourari is also an actress and media personality, having appeared in a major role in the 2001 Werner Herzog movie Invincible, and having made six short documentary-style films about art in Russia for Deutsche Welle TV. Gourari possesses a broad repertory that includes works by Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky, but she is best known for her interpretations of 20th century music, with the names Scriabin, Bartók, Ravel, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Poulenc, and Barber regularly appearing on her programs. But Gourari also plays much contemporary music, particularly works by Gubaidulina, Bialas, Widmann, and Hiller. Gourari has made numerous recordings spread over several labels, including Koch Schwann, Berlin Classics, and Lmg Kid Source.
Anna Gourari was born into a musical family in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, on October 3, 1972. Her parents taught at the Kazan Music Academy and were her first piano teachers. From age seven she received lessons from Kira Shashkina, and in her teens she studied with Vera Gornostaeva.
In 1986 Gourari captured first prize in the Kabalevsky Competition and three years later won another first prize, at the Chopin Competition in Göttingen. The Gourari family moved to Germany in 1990 so she could attend the Hochule für Musik in Munich. There her teachers included Ludwig Hoffmann and Gitti Pirner.
In 1994 Gourari won another competition, the Dusseldorf-based Clara Schumann Piano Competition. Thereafter she began appearing at the major concert venues across the globe, and with many of the leading conductors, including Colin Davis, Mehta, and Maazel. Her first major recording, a disc of the Chopin Third Sonata and several mazurkas, was issued in 1998 on the Lmg Kid Source label. In 2000 Gourari signed an exclusive recording contract with the Koch Schwann label. With her appearance in Invincible in 2001, she became a major presence on the international concert and recording scene. Gourari traveled back to Russia in 2007 (her first visit there since her 1990 departure) to make the documentary films for Deutsche Welle. Among Gourari's recordings is the 2009 CD on Berlin Classics of Brahms' Opp. 116-119 piano works. She joined the ECM label, releasing Canto Oscuro in 2012 and Visions fugitives in 2014, both featuring thoughtfully crafted programs.