Classical Guitar Sessions: Piotr Pakhomkin Plays Scarlatti, Villa-Lobos, and Paganini

Based in Washington D.C., Russian-American guitarist Piotr Pakhomkin is one of the bright lights of the younger generation of classical musicians, a player of tremendous skill and sensitivity. A few months ago, we saluted his victory in the prestigious 5th Respighi International Soloist Competition, sponsored by the Chamber Orchestra of New York in conjunction with the city of Bologna, Italy. It’s one of the rare major contests that features musicians who play different instruments—his fellow finalists included two harpists and a pianist. Not surprisingly, Piotr, who studied with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Maryland, has also fared well in classical guitar competitions, having won top prizes at competitions in Culiacan (Mexico), Boston, Montreal, Buffalo, and Gorizia (Italy), and he has performed in many other cities and countries, as well.

Like many guitarists, Piotr spends much of his time teaching: The Georgetown Guitar Academy is his personal pre-college program for young guitarists, and he also has a regular summer faculty position at Strathmore’s Institute for Artistic Development, a program dedicated to helping young musicians learn about careers in the music business.

He stopped by our Sessions studio during a recent West Coast swing which included dates with another Classical Guitar Sessions alumnus, Yuri Liberzon. Piotr played three short but challenging pieces for our cameras: Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major, K. 380; Hietor Villa-Lobos’ Etude No. 7; and Paganini’s daunting Caprice No. 24. Piotr plays a 2010 Ross Gutmeier double-top guitar and Oasis strings. The Paganini piece is one of six available on his latest Sonis release, Virtuoso Guitar Collection.