Steven Lubin  pianist and fortepianist

New York Times Coverage Since 1977

February 11, 1977

The textures remained marvelously transparent...he played everything with spirit and taste. [Carnegie Recital Hall]
—Donal Henahan

May 11, 1979

The more one hears approximations of late 18th-century performance sound, the more desirable they sound. The lowered dynamic levels and reduced tensions heightened the lyricism of this music...[Carnegie Recital Hall]
—Allen Hughes

November 23, 1980

One of the fortepiano's better solo exponents...he showed how subtly, colorfully and convincingly a work such as the Mozart sonata could be played on something other than a modern concert grand...The instruments, perfectly balanced in strength, sounding with the utmost clarity, both mellow and bright in tone, gave complete delight throughout the evening...the results were irresistible. The Mozartean Players will begin a concerto series in Alice Tully Hall on January 14, and it should be something to look forward to. [Carnegie Recital Hall]
—Raymond Erickson

December 21, 1980

It was a year when pianos fought each other in public, and when the piano's more civilized ancestor, the fortepiano, finally attracted the attention of the conertgoing public...as for the gentle-voiced fortepiano, its emergence from the mists of keyboard history has added a valuable dimension to musical life. Such early proponents as Steven Lubin and Malcolm Bilson kept busy at their missionary work and they were joined by others who had built their careers on the modern grand or harpsichord. All at once the fortepiano had become almost modish. [Round-up of the musical year]
—Donal Henahan

December 28, 1980

On January 14 [1981] at Alice Tully Hall, Steven Lubin will become the first fortepianist to give a program of concertos in New York.
—Joseph Horowitz

January 19, 1981

It was a sound that had absolutely nothing in common with the Mozart concerto performances we all grew up on...the textures sounded natural, intimate, beautifully balanced. [Alice Tully Hall]
—Harold Schonberg

November 11, 1981

All the performers—including...Steven Lubin, fortepiano—gave a mature sheen to our charming and adolescent "Musick." [Concert of Early-American song]
—Edward Rothstein

May 2, 1982

At first, Mr. Lubin's suggestion that "these works make complete sense only if performed as intended"...encourages rebellion in the reader. Yet, at the appearance of the gypsy-flavored rondo, the doubts evaporate. [Haydn recording]
—Allan Kozinn

February 6, 1983

Mozart's multiple keyboard works have...come in for thorough and competitive exploration on both old and new instruments. The most intriguing entry is a collaboration by Steven Lubin and Anthony Newman, who address the four-hand Sonata in F, K.497, and the Sonata for Two Pianos in D, K.448 (Arabesque 8125). Playing slightly jangly, bright-toned fortepianos, Messrs. Lubin and Newman light into the quick movements with a gripping vehemence, and turn the slow movements into pictures of crystalline grace.
—Edward Rothstein

March 13, 1983

Steven Lubin's fortepiano lines sparkle amid refreshingly transparent orchestral textures.
—Allan Kozinn

April 10, 1983

The real gem of the night was the Mozart Piano Concerto No.23 in A (K.488), with its rich wind writing intoned by the period instruments. Mr. Lubin is not just a scholar; he is a musician, too. His playing justified the fortepiano not through its sound alone, but through the artistry that he brought to his interpretation.
—John Rockwell

July 28, 1983

This year's installment of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra has received much justified praise. But of the three hours of playing at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday evening, far and away the best work of the night came from the keyboard players, or more precisely two of them. The two were Steven Lubin...and Alicia de Larrocha...Mr. Lubin's playing was both superbly controlled and deftly sensitive.
—John Rockwell

April 22, 1984

Most people must have a list of bygone spectacles they would like to check in on, if someone would invent a time machine. High on my list are: Mozart's public concerto performances in Vienna in the 1780's; the Globe Theater in Shakespeare's day; Plato's Academy; the ducal court at Ferrara in the 1490's, when Josquin was there; and Ebbets Field in 1947, Jackie Robinson's rookie year...[Arts and Leisure feature article written by SL: "Mozart Must Have Thwacked Out Octaves, Too"]

May 2, 1984

The Mozartean Players Classical Orchestra...at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, under the direction of Steven Lubin, was both musically and historically rewarding. Mr. Lubin led from the fortepiano, on which he also offered bracing performances of two Mozart concertos.
—Tim Page

August, 5, 1984

Mozart's twelfth piano concerto was played as it might have been in an aristocratic patron's drawing room...the fortepiano added just the right touch of crispness and unassertive rhythmic underpinning to the smooth string sound. Mr. Lubin's playing was fluent and full of wit. [Mostly Mozart Festival]
—Will Crutchfield

October 7, 1984

A particularly graceful musician...he is a very satisfying keyboard player. It seems a simple thing to make listeners hear precisely where phrases begin and end, but many performers cannot, and few do it as well as this one. [Carnegie Recital Hall]
—Bernard Holland

December 2, 1984

The performance is subtle and effective....sparklingly played." [Mozart-recording round-up]
—Paul Turok

May 4, 1986

He played the quick outer movements with splendid dash. The fast scale-work for once sounded virtuosic: on a fortepiano, the soloist can let it rip at full force... [Metropolitan Museum]
—Will Crutchfield

July 14, 1986

The earlier chamber music [programmed in Pepsico's Summerfare Haydn Festival] offered some lovely fortepiano performances by Steven Lubin.
—Bernard Holland

July 29, 1987

Steven Lubin brought to the solo part a lively imagination and a zest for fast tempos...[Mostly Mozart Festival]
—Will Crutchfield

March 4, 1988

Handling the instrument and delving into the theoretical literature of Mozart's day, the pianist says, have brought him a long way from his starting points in understanding the spirit of the composer. [Feature article citing 92nd-Street Y solo concert]
—Will Crutchfield

March 7, 1988

Delivered with a heroic conception...for unity, coherence and conviction it was a performance to remember. [92nd Street Y]
—Will Crutchfield

November 28, 1988

Steven Lubin, the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24, played with poetry and sensitivity and offered a dazzling first-movement cadenza. [Town Hall]
—Allan Kozinn

July 3, 1988

Mr. Lubin plays with full conviction; he knows how to build a climax, to "take it away" toward the end of a cadenza, to underline a crucial point. [Decca Beethoven-Concerto cycle]
—Will Crutchfield

December 25, 1988

The list of concerto recordings was headed by the complete Beethoven piano concertos with Steven Lubin on various fortepianos and Christopher Hogwood conducting. [Recordings-of-the-Year round-up]
—John Rockwell

May 7, 1989

One of the nice things about hearing period-instrument concerts these days is that the instruments themselves are generally well played and less of an issue than they used to be. This is by way of saying that when the Mozartean Players came to the Metropolitan Museum on Friday night, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn were more on our minds than what they were being played on.
—Bernard Holland

July 16, 1989

In the early 1980's, this pianist made some superb fortepiano recordings with his period instrument band, the Mozartean Players, but he has always been drawn to more conventional Romantic pianism as well. [Concert announcement, Maverick, Woodstock, NY]
—Allan Kozinn

September 27, 1989

Mr. Lubin opened the program with Haydn's Piano Sonata in E flat (H. XVI:52), in a darker, more forceful reading than fortepianists usually coax from their comparatively softspoken instruments. Mr. Lubin tapped into the work's incipient Romanticism, highlighting its frequent shifts from bright, if not quite sunny, passages to turbulent ones. The Adagio, in particular, benefited from a soulful and timbrally variegated approach; and in the closing Presto, Mr. Lubin used pauses between the main theme's phrases to great dramatic effect. [Music Before 1800]
—Allan Kozinn

September 9, 1990

Mr. Lubin's chamber group, The Mozartean Players, is setting a high standard in the difficult medium of piano plus strings. [Mozart-performance round-up]
—Richard Taruskin

October 12, 1991

It is always fascinating to return to the first work Beethoven published, his Piano Trio in E flat of 1794 or earlier (Op. 1, No. 1), in ever fuller awareness of the riches to follow from that composer. It was especially so on Oct. 4 at Weill Recital Hall, with the trio presented by the Mozartean Players in a well-conceived context of near-contemporaneous works by Mozart and Haydn...The Mozartean Players' performances were generally fine. Steven Lubin played a Regier copy of a Walter fortepiano from about 1790 with good fluency in the rattling figurations...
—James Oestreich

February 1, 1992

This concert [Alice Tully Hall] was...the beginning of a fortepiano series mounted by the Mozart Bicentennial at Lincoln Center...Mr. Lubin played vividly in the Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je maman" (K.265) and in the Concerto No. 1. His edgy temperament did not preclude a certain thoughtfulness, and in the minor-key variation on the nursery tune, he waxed downright brainy, interpolating the first theme of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, a fillip in keeping with the work's ebullient cleverness.
—James Oestreich

March 22. 1992

Anyone who might expect yet another complacent run-through of Beethoven's "Pathátique," "Moonlight," and "Tempest" Sonatas here would be in for a shock...Mr. Lubin heightens the overall effect by means of sharply pointed accentuations and a strikingly broad dynamic range. In fact, Beethoven's dynamic and textural juxtapositions seem even more extreme in this austere context. And the sheer fragility of the fortepiano, rocking under the impact of the ferocious assault, enhances the drama of these reveting and insightul performances.
—K. Robert Schwartz

April 7, 1993

Steven Lubin offered a look at Mozart's darker and more sober side in his expressively shaped accounts of the A-minor Sonata, an Adagio in B minor (K.540), and the Funeral March in C minor (K.453a). [Lincoln Center's Fortepiano Festival, Alice Tully Hall]
—Allan Kozinn

July 5, 1993

Mr. Lubin's delightful version of the Mozart variations is well known by now. His very hulking presence at his little instrument (a Regier copy of a Walter piano from about 1790) adds humor to the "Twinkle, Twinkle" association, and the dark drama he imports from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 into the second minor variation sets up the thoughtful ending beautifully...Mr. Lubin was no less impressive in the ensemble works, offering meaningful rhythmic hesitations in the Mozart and pointed articulation of the witty themes in the Haydn and Beethoven finales. His stamina, in spinning out so many exposed and unforgiving passages cleanly, was remarkable.
—James Oestreich

March 7, 1996

Schubert's E-flat Trio, given a tasteful, nonabrasive original-instruments rendition by the Mozartean Players (Harmonia Mundi 907095)
—Alex Ross

December 5, 1997

Fans of Classical and early Romantic piano music will know Steven Lubin for his exemplary fortepiano recordings of the Mozart and Beethoven concertos and some of the Beethoven sonatas. But Mr. Lubin is also a fine performer on the modern piano, and he has at times expressed a preference for the larger sonorities and broader expressive flexibility of the concert grand.
—Allan Kozinn

February 4, 2000

This pianist has provided some fine, provocative performances of both Classical repertory played on the fortepiano and Romantic literature performed on a concert grand. [Concert announcement]
—Allan Kozinn

March 25, 2001

Steven Lubin has been a faculty member at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College for 25 years. He is also an international concert pianist and a founder of the early-music movement in this country. He was first to play the fortepiano, an 18th-century piano, in New York recital halls. He formed the Mozartean Players, a chamber music ensemble devoted to period performance, and their recordings introduced listeners to Mozart played in period style. He has made 20 recordings including five Beethoven concertos recorded with Christopher Hogwood and the London Academy of Ancient Music. Purchase College has awarded Mr. Lubin its Kempner Distinguished Professor Award for 1999-2001 for international achievement. On April 4 at noon he will give the lecture associated with the award at the Conservatory of Music Recital Hall, using the piano to illustrate his talk, titled "Math, Music and Miracles." In a recent interview, he talked about his lecture and about early music...[Feature article in the Westchester edition]
—Margo Nash

October 5, 2004

The pianist Steven Lubin once gambled correctly that if he built one, they would come. The object in question was a fortepiano, modeled after those used in Mozart's day. Mr. Lubin was one of the first New Yorkers to perform widely on the fortepiano. In 1979, he founded the Mozartean Players, a period-instrument ensemble that performed on Sunday evening as part of the New York Early Music Celebration...Haydn's remarkable F-minor Piano Variations, played by Mr. Lubin with equal portions of vigor and grace, was the highlight. [Frick Museum]
—Jeremy Eichler

July 26, 2008

Steven Lubin was the soloist in Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto... Mozart favored a translucent sound and a singing melody that 'must flow like oil'... Mr. Lubin demonstrated this approach with clearly delineated articulation... he played with a singing tone.
—Vivien Schweitzer

February 13, 2009

The eloquent and scholarly pianist Steven Lubin opens the weekend at this floating concert hall [The Barge] with two big Romantic works...
—Allan Kozinn