Pasternack boasts an unusual combination of brains and brawn, and with an emotional depth charge, too. A student of Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Pasternack has the intellectual rigor of the first, the luminous tone and spontaneity of the second. It is hard to imagine a pianist completely at home in the Aaron Copland Sonata who could also delight the students and piano mavens in the audience with elegantly played romantic-period encores...
His playing was full of spirit, character, and surprise, and even the pauses were intelligently judged. He showed, more than most pianists, how the kaleidoscopic effect of the music depends on the rapid rearrangement of the same shards of melody and harmony. And the fearsome leaps of ‘’Paganini” for once posed no problem...
It’s hard to imagine that Bernstein would not have enjoyed this rambunctious playing as much as the audience did.
— The Boston Globe
Pasternack’s performance was sensational. He played the concerto with just the right amount of fleetness, lightness and lyricism. He also coaxed some of the biggest, most dramatic sounds I’ve heard from the NSO’s Steinway. His performance received thunderous applause, and the only disappointment was that he didn’t play an encore.
— Nashville Scene
The intimacy of the Phillips Collection’s music room was an ideal venue for cellist Carter Brey and his excellent collaborator, pianist Benjamin Pasternack, on Sunday… The quiet longing of the first movement of the Schumann that, in the ensuing movements, opened into carefree joy and then urgency all happened subtly with shades of color, rhythmic anticipation and a whole catalogue of attacks. Pasternack shared in all this, every bit the partner rather than accompanist. And the concluding Chopin, by turns lyrical and jaunty, showed the two musicians at their partnering best…Pasternack roared through the Bernstein with an impressive head of steam and, together, the two gave the sort of compelling account of the Carter, once thought of as daunting, that could sell it to the most musically conservative audience.
— The Washington Post
St.Clair and pianist Benjamin Pasternack, both of whom studied the work with the composer, gave it a tightly knitted performance, carefully calibrated toward the climaxes, yet patient while getting there. The colors in the orchestration were nicely realized; Pasternack was both rock solid and eloquent.
— The Oregon County Register
Benjamin Pasternack shows a clear ease and affinity….Pasternack is also in sync with the Sonata’s taut poetry, moving fluidly from cool austerity to bursts of agitated virtuosity….He shows fine sensitivity...
— Gramophone
Aaron Copland’s three major large-scale piano works count among the composer’s greatest in any genre….I’m certain Benjamin Pasternack’s idiomatic mastery would have pleased the composer no end. ...Pasternack’s subtle gradations in touch and gentle yet firm sustaining power in the Andante sostenuto command your attention. So does the authority with which he integrates and characterizes the Variations’ radical swings in mood and texture...I can’t imagine a better way to inexpensively acquire the three pillars of Copland’s solo piano output in committed, rock solid performances.

Benjamin Pasternack, pianist

Among the most experienced and versatile musicians today, the American pianist Benjamin Pasternack has performed as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician on four continents. His orchestral engagements have included solo appearances with the the Bamberg, Boston, Dusseldorf, Nashville, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the Orchestre National de France, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, and the SWR Orchestra of Stuttgart. Among the many illustrious conductors with whom he has collaborated are Seiji Ozawa, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Gunther Schuller, Leon Fleisher, Marin Alsop, and Carl St. Clair.  

 Pasternack has performed as soloist with the Boston Symphony on more than a score of occasions, at concerts in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, in Athens, Salzburg and Paris on their past European and South American tours. He has been guest artist at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest, the Festival de Capuchos in Portugal, the Festival de Menton in France, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.  

Highlights of the 2018-19 season include performances with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Orquesta Nacional de Costa Rica, as well as recitals with the Post-Classical Ensemble at the National Cathedral, at Baltimore’s Community Concerts at Second series, and together with New York Philharmonic cellist Carter Brey at the Bender JCC in North Bethesda. 

Pasternack has performed dozens of works by composers of his own lifetime, very often in their presence or with their collaboration. Among those with whom he has worked personally are Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, George Perle, Frederic Rzewski, Peter Lieberson, Nicholas Maw, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Schnittke, Toru Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, and Oliver Knussen. He has been featured as soloist twice on National Public Radio’s nationally syndicated show Symphony Cast, and his recording on the Naxos label of the three major piano works of Copland has been singled out for praise by numerous publications including the London Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times

A native of Philadelphia, Pasternack entered the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 13, studying with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Rudolf Serkin. He was the Grand Prize winner of the inaugural World Music Masters Piano Competition held in Paris and Nice in July 1989. Bestowed by the unanimous vote of a distinguished panel of judges, the honor carried with it a $30,000 award and engagements throughout Europe and North America. After 14 years on the piano faculty of Boston University, he joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in September 1997. 

Pasternack performing his personal transcription of Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town” at the Curtis Institute of Music on February 26, 2016.

Excerpt of Pasternack’s performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica and Music Director Carl St. Clair.