“Brilliant. Brave, naked, intense, raw. Ultimately, that’s what real art is about: when the artist talks about himself and the listener feels he’s hearing his own story.” Star pianist Igor Levit found highest praise for Malakoff Kowalski’s last record My First Piano (2018) and continues today about the new solo piano album Onomatopoetika: “The most beautiful confession of love to Erik Satie that I’ve ever heard.”
Recently named “The piano poet” by Vogue Magazine, Malakoff Kowalski was born to Persian parents in Boston and raised in Hamburg, Germany. He currently resides in Berlin—where his new album Onomatopoetika was recorded and mixed by German Neo-classical pioneer Nils Frahm at his famous Funkhaus Studio. Described by Chilly Gonzales as “A deep and haunting piano suite. Mystical and unexpected”, the ten post romantic piano pieces are inspired by composers such as Sibelius, Grieg, Scriabin and the above mentioned Erik Satie.
In his solo concerts Kowalski performs in the most reduced manner possible: black darkened auditoriums, only a tiny reading lamp above the grand piano, complete silence, no applause between the pieces. “When I sit at the piano everything else disappears. As if I was in an empty movie theater with no movie being shown. At the piano I find a way to say things for which there are no words.” Kowalski has shared the stage with notable pianists Chilly Gonzales, Alice Sara Ott, Olga Sheps and Hauschka on numerous occasions.
One will see him rarely in anything else but his “captain’s outfit”: A white button-up shirt, tight black pants up to the ankles, black shiny boots and a sailor’s hat from his hometown Hamburg. “I can go to court or to a funeral in the morning, attend a tv interview in the afternoon, have dinner at some shack and a drink at the finest grand hotel in town, play a philharmony concert and then go to a techno club—all in the same attire. I could even play a punk rock show dressed like that.”
Kowalski has also been working as a film and theater composer. For years he has collaborated closely with acclaimed German filmmaker Klaus Lemke. Kowalski’s piano music was last to be heard in the movie Euphoria, starring Alicia Vikander, Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling. Kowalski’s newest film score for a documentary by Franca Gelfort and Niklas Maak is currently being shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York as part of an exhibition initiated by Rem Koohlhas titled Countryside, The Future (February – August 2020).
Released on legendary German record label MPS—established in the Sixties, producing piano albums by Friedrich Gulda, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson or Bill Evans—Malakoff Kowalski’s new work Onomatopoetika will be performed in concerts not only in Germany, but for the first time also in the US, the UK and across Europe. Solo piano music that blurs the lines between classical and jazz. Or as GQ Magazine puts it: “Music that warms. Piano pieces, so peaceful and beautiful you simply want to live inside them.”
Solo Album Discography:
2009: Neue Deutsche Reiselieder (DKK / EMI Music Publ.)
2012: Kill Your Babies – Filmscore for an Unknown Picture (Buback / EMI Music Publ.)
2015: I Love You (MPS / Edel / Universal Music Publ.)
2018: My First Piano (MPS / Edel / Universal Music Publ.)
2020: Onomatopoetika (MPS / Edel / Universal Music Publ.)