Claude Gingras of La Presse, Montreal, recently said of pianist Michael Chertock: "Chertock revealed himself as a first-rate pianist and an interpreter of noticeable interest through the freshness that he brought to these familiar scores....(he) displayed the sensitivity of a Chopin interpreter." Indeed, Chertock's commanding technique and sensitive, elegant styling make him a favorite soloist among conductors around the world.
Chertock has collaborated successfully with conductors such as James Conlon, Jaime Laredo, Keith Lockhart and Andrew Litton. This summer, he performed Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Maestro Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Bach concerto in B Minor BWV 1058 with Maestro Laredo and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, Chertock stepped in at a moment's notice to perform Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie with the Aspen Festival Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Conlon. His 2003 performance on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's recording of Petrouchka with Paavo Järvi turned in rave reviews in Gramaphone and American Record Guide. Chertock's additional orchestral appearances include solo performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, l'Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal, the Toronto Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Chattanooga Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony and the Dayton Philharmonic. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1999 with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, performing Duke Ellington's New World A'Comin'. Chertock has toured Asia with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, and with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
In 1994, Chertock released his first CD on the Telarc label, a collection of his original arrangements of music from movies entitled Cinematic Piano. American Record Guide said "(Chertock) plays beautifully, and Telarc's lush sonics bathe the listener in an intoxicating wash of piano sonorities." Cincinnati Enquirer critic Janelle Gelfand called it "one of the most gorgeous discs of the summer", citing his "elegant techniques,...just the right poetic tone." The recording has sold more than 30,000 units worldwide. Telarc released Chertock's second recording, Palace of the Winds, in 1997. It features music from movies such as Shine, The English Patient and Immortal Beloved. The Cincinnati Enquirer praised its "luminous touch, mesmerizing sonorities and sonic splendor," as well as Chertock's "knack for ringing melody and transparency of texture." Chertock released two more recordings for Telarc, Christmas at the Movies and Love At the Movies, which have been praised for their lush, original arrangements and exquisite technical facility.
The Boston Globe has called his playing "unmannered, zestful, and lovely." The Cincinnati Enquirer has described the Virginia native as "intelligent and disciplined...noble...finely finished...expressive and well-controlled." The Salt Lake City Deseret News said "Chertock... is a musical performer with an immense technical command of the piano."
Chertock's piano credits include a 1991 Cincinnati premiere of the Liszt Third Piano Concerto in E Flat, the Boston premiere of the Leroy Anderson Piano Concerto in 1993 under the direction of Erich Kunzel, and the Cincinnati premiere of the Lutoslawski Piano Concerto in 1996. In New York City in 1994, he performed, with Cincinnati pianist Frank Weinstock, the world premiere of Notta Sonata by Jonathan Kramer, a piece for two pianos and percussion. Kyle Gann of The Village Voice hailed Weinstock and Chertock as "a fantastically well-rehearsed ensemble; they could break into the trickiest, most exposed unison attacks in perfect timing without even looking at each other."
Chertock began conducting in 2001 when he stepped in for Maestro Carmon De Leone in performances of The Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet. Chertock was recently named conductor of the Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony, located in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, and he frequently composes and arranges music for the orchestra's concerts.
Chertock holds a Master's degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Frank Weinstock. He has garnered numerous awards at major competitions, among them the top prize in the 1989 Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition (Brahms Division,) and the grand prize in the 1993 St. Charles International Piano Competition. He also shared the silver medal in the 1991 World Piano Competition of the American Music Scholarship Association. He received the Rildia B. O'Bryon Cliburn Scholarship in 1986.
Chertock, a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a regular performer at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Blossom Music Center in Cleveland, and the Grand Tetons Music Festival in Wyoming. He is Artistic Director of Cincinnati's Peanut Butter and Jam Sessions, an interactive music series geared toward children ages 2 to 5.