"... Helmchen plunged into the stormy depths. His cool stage presence belied the force behind his account of the concerto [Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3]. Even in more delicate passages, echoes of fury were palpable, and trilled notes had their own knife edges, sharpened to diamond grade by the acoustics of Symphony Hall ... The slower second movement was a thing of crystalline beauty, and Helmchen exquisitely shaped the contours of both the sweet melody and twinkling backdrop to the orchestra. With those smaller sounds, the impact was much larger. In the third movement the thunder returned, culminating in a fierce, pealing coda."
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
“… the novelty here was Dvorák’s Piano Concerto in G minor (1876), redolent of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Liszt … [Mr. Dohnányi’s] conception was perfectly tailored to the lucid heat of the rising pianist Martin Helmchen, making an impressive Philharmonic debut with these performances. Mr. Helmchen has a noble bearing and a noble sound, shaping lines as elegant and clean as a Greek temple’s. While Dvorák’s concerto is notorious for the discomfort it induces in its soloists, he never seemed to break a sweat, unleashing chromatic runs and laying down octaves with a style that was technically assured but also sly and nuanced, passing in and out of the orchestral textures. If Mr. Dohnányi kept the emotional temperature rather cool throughout the concert, Mr. Helmchen provided ample sparks.”
NEW YORK TIMES
"Under the pianist's beautifully regulated touch, phrases arched and connected with a fluidity that always felt natural in their unfolding ..." [Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2]
CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA (Blossom)
“Pianist Martin Helmchen, the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, also seemed determined to expose the heart of a popular, deeply familiar piece of music … Not content with just one mood per movement, Helmchen always sought a counterbalance, injecting playfulness into reveries and a scampering, unbounded quality into music of a generally fiery nature. Thus was routine averted, and a fresh, bracing experience provided in its stead.”
PLAIN DEALER (Cleveland)
SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY
"... and then came pianist Martin Helmchen who made Beethoven's 'Emperor' concerto, No. 5 in E-flat major, seem something beautifully old and impossibly new at the same time ... Helmchen''s alert but relaxed focus, his astounding repose at the keyboard while producing a creamy tone that has substance, no matter how loud or soft, and most of all, his amazing use of the pedal to clarify texture and breathe air into even the most densely notated passages ... well, it's miraculous, in a word, and you have to see and hear it to believe that we have such a pianist working among us today."
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
MOSTLY MOZART FESTIVAL (Lincoln Center)
"The highlight for me was the performance of Mozart's majestic Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, with the refined, fresh, young German pianist Martin Helmchen in an impressive Mostly Mozart debut."
NEW YORK TIMES
BOSTON SYMPHONY (Tanglewood)
“Helmchen lit the Schumann Piano Concerto with an inner glow, suggesting its kinship with Schumann's songs … [his] fluidity allowed him to refine and color the deeply romantic spirit. The high point of the cadenza, for example, was not the showy stuff, but the lyrical interlude.”
WASHINGTON PERFORMING ARTS SOCIETY RECITAL
"The world isn't short of brilliant concert pianists, but Martin Helmchen stands out even in that remarkable crowd ... it wasn't so much the young German's technique — which truly is spectacular — that made the afternoon memorable as it was the distinctive poetic imagination that he brought to virtually everything he played."
"SYMPHONY CENTER PRESENTS" RECITAL (Chicago)
"Beethoven's 'Diabelli' Variations are, of course, inventions towering and pure ... Here Helmchen was in his element, finding apposite aural equivalents for each Beethoven marking and achieving special results ... The fulfillment of purely musical criteria showed flashes of delight in revealing a kaleidoscopic array of shapes and colors that kept the work from seeming like a museum piece."
“… the performance was all Helmchen’s: the well-calibrated muscle with which he tackled this sparkling but rather arch piece made one look forward to hearing him in meatier repertoire.” [Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1]
THE GUARDIAN (London)
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
“The young German pianist Martin Helmchen was outstanding. His crisp articulation, imaginative phrasing, and a few discreetly added grace notes, made this dark minor key drama a compelling experience.” [Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24]
CD: Diabelli Variations in C Major, Op. 120 by Ludwig van Beethoven (Alpha-Classics)
"Is it wise to make the Diabelli Variations your first Beethoven recording? There are certainly easier options than this bewildering, often madcap pile of 33 variations, tricked out of a banal little waltz written by the composer-publisher Anton Diabelli. But nothing disconcerts the glorious, unshowy German pianist Martin Helmchen—the kind of performer who lifts his audiences up to heaven just by penetrating inside his music with nimble fingers, questing intelligence and a beating heart.
"Plus wit: a much-needed quality when these variations lurch into parody, pratfalls and all kinds of musical games … Wisely, Helmchen sometimes pauses the cavalcade for a few seconds, usually before one of the slower variations, though there is never any let-up in tension.
"In the final stretch … Helmchen is particularly wonderful, transporting us into higher realms through infinitely subtle varieties of touch and masterful adjustments of the notes’ ebb and flow."
THE TIMES (London)