Tanya Ekanayaka

The Planets & Humanity – Piano Reflections Naxos (Grand Piano) Records: CD Reviews

“The isolation of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic touched everyone. In Ekanayaka’s work, she seeks to touch all parts of the world, reaching out to all the continents to find an element to weave into her work. [Her] inclusion of Earth is a major reconception of the place of all planets in music.”
© Maureen Buja, Interlude, February 2022

“With her CD The Planets & Humanity , Sri Lankan-British pianist Tanya Ekanayaka goes in search of the organic moment when time and space merge. She looks for her answer in the starry sky. The eight tracks on this CD are named after the eight planets of our solar system. Each reflects one of our seven continents, with the exception of Earth-Life (track 6) which reflects on the intertwining of pain and hope in response to the COVID pandemic.”

“With an impressive range of timbre (thanks to Ekanayaka's synaesthesia) and recurring techniques, the different planets are stylistically linked to each other - a symbolic reminder of their interconnectedness within the universe.” (Translated from Dutch)
© Helena Gaudeus, Klassiek Centraal, January 2022

“When Gustav Holst imagined a suite of pieces depicting the planets of the solar system, he fell back on the Greek and Roman gods, whose identity would already be known to the audience. In her musically delightful reimagining, Tanya Ekanayaka evokes something deeper—the cosmic link with the heavens that emerged from prehistory in every indigenous culture. This global vision, which is expressed in the album’s title, The Planets & Humanity, became urgent during the COVID pandemic. Ekanayaka dreams of an emerging global unity (part of a widespread call for a reset in human values)—and in this case the dream was literal."

"This album was recorded at the end of 2020 during a brief respite from lockdown in the UK. It joins any number of releases inspired by the “lost year” of 2020 and the suffering and loneliness it created. What makes Ekanayaka’s offering unique is her expanded vision of the future. We still gaze at the heavens with wonder, meditate on infinite mysteries, and imagine a realm beyond space and time. To her credit, Ekanayaka has found musical expressions for moods that cannot be put into words and which reach back before the dawn of history. Warmly recommended.”
© Huntley Dent, Fanfare, November 2021

“Composed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this cycle for solo piano represents Ekanayaka’s interest in the expressive connections between past and present. The eight movements combine to create a potpourri of moods through which Ekanayaka is able to showcase a confident and precise technical command of the piano.”
© Adam Scime, The WholeNote, October 2021

Twelve Piano Prisms  Naxos (Grand Piano) Records: CD Reviews

“Ekanayaka certainly hits her musical mark with these piano pieces.”
© Stephanie Boyd, American Record Guide, January 2019

“The fact is that Ekanayaka plays her 'Prisms' so well that - to stay within the image - they are 'deconstructed' into the most beautiful spectral colours which caress the ear and heart no matter how you stand by this kind of music which transcends the boundaries of 'popular' and 'classical'. Applause!”
© Burkhard Schäfer, Piano News, January 2019

“The music is improvisational in effect, yet careful listening reveals real care in the construction. The Chopinesque dark skies of No 3 (‘Emerald Lapwing Karpet’) cede to a translucency that owes much to Bach. The toccata ‘With Paaru Kavi’ contrasts with the hyper-delicate ‘Arrow – and’. ‘Zuni Sea’ combines Native American song with Sri Lankan melody, while ‘Scintilla’ joins the Armenian Komitas with Sri Lanka: it is in the international interplay that the fascination lies. The music is always beautifully performed by the composer.”
© Collin Clarke, International Piano, November 2018

“If you want something tonally wistful and lyrically inspired in new piano music, you will most certainly find it here. If Ms. Ekanayaka does not easily fit in to what other music is being done today, so much the better for us. For we hear an original musical mind at work. Definitely recommended.”
© Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, October 2018

“Ekanayaka’s use of international melodies as her inspiration truly puts her in a new class of composition.”
© Maureen Buja, Interlude, October 2018

“It is certainly fascinating, and Tanya Ekanayaka always plays the piano beautifully.”
© Musicalifeiten, September 2018

Reinventions: Rhapsodies for Piano  Naxos (Grand Piano) Records: CD Reviews

"Transmuting re-imaginings of traditional Sri Lankan melodies through the creative prism of the Western classical tradition, Ekanayaka’s semi-extemporisations vividly recall the golden age of musical ‘reminiscences’."
© Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine, October 2015

"Ekanayaka is a formidable pianist worth hearing just for her big sound and scrupulous voicing. And these are big pieces, basically 19th Century virtuoso etudes full of flashy Lisztian and chopinesque arpeggios and colors, spiced with Sri Lankian motifs that somehow blend in. …As usual, Grand Piano offers scintillating, realistic piano sound. The Steinway D in this recording leaps out and envelops the listener."
© Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide, November 2015

"Melodic fragments of great beauty float through this music…"
© International Piano, November 2015

"Her keyboard technique is formidable. Massive arpeggios seem completely effortless as she weaves together traditional Sri Lankan melodies with inspirations taken from composers like Bach, Debussy and Chopin. She is capable of both the smallest nuance as well as the grandest gesture the keyboard can afford. Her works carry evocative titles such as In Lotus, Labyrinth and Dhaivaya. Her descriptions and rationales for the content of the Rhapsodies is highly detailed and musically rich. Even the most fanciful works e.g. Of Scottish Walks, Vannam & Sri Lanka’s Bugs Bunny require more than one listening.One begins to wonder if she is perhaps the Keith Jarrett of the subcontinent."
© Alex Baran, The WholeNote, November 2015

"…Tanya Ekanayaka proved that playing one’s own compositions with perfect faith in musician’s ability is the psychological equivalent of silver bullet in combating the misplaced anxieties over accidental memory slips."
© Asian Tribune, 2015

"Born in 1977, Tanya Ekanayaka has become one of Sri Lanka’s most famous international solo pianists with a portfolio of compositions for the instrument. She works in a musical world of spontaneous creativity, scores emerging ‘often as a whole within just a few minutes’, her ten minute Vannam (Gajaga, Mayura & Hanuma) & You, completed in just one afternoon in February 2013. Stylistically her scores stand somewhere between Chopin and Rachmaninov, her building blocks are scales, arpeggios and arabesques forming immediately pleasing pieces combining a wide variety of her national melodies, both folk and popular. She then adds the influences she finds in her public recitals, with fleeting direct quotations from other composers, including a jazzy reference to Gershwin in 2013/14 June Echoes. Others, I am sure, will find her national input, but I guess most will just sit back and enjoy her pleasant and tuneful music. As a performer she is highly capable, those long arpeggio passages played with a crystalline clarity. This is my first taste of a new offshoot of the Grand Piano series that will feature performer-composers, the Edinburgh University made recording, where Ekanayaka now teaches, is of unassuming sound quality."
© David's Review Corner, 2015

Other Reviews and Testimonials

"Tanya Ekanayaka is a musician of rare accomplishment. Her pianism is fresh and powerful, technically assured and emotionally persuasive. As a composer she has the ability to synthesise her inter-cultural experience to create music that is original and compelling. In an age when the composer-pianist seems like a moment from the past, Tanya Ekanayaka shows us the potential of such a complete musicianship."
Peter Nelson
Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh, UK

"Tanya Ekanayaka's music is subtle, beautiful and surprising. Whereas many Asian composers like, say, Takemitsu or Tan Dun, have arrived in European concert halls through a combination of international modernism and carefully crafted encounters with Asian folk and classical music, Tanya has travelled in precisely the opposite direction. Her starting point is in her experience as a pianist playing music of Western serious music tradition, and in particular the mid-Romantic repertoire. It is after a long journey through the rich language of mature Western tonality that she eventually reaches, along a purely instinctive and intuitive path, the popular melodies and hymns of her native Sri Lanka. It is through the arpeggios, embellishments and filigree of the language of Chopin and Liszt that she approaches the graceful ornamentation of her cultural tradition: the circles and slender pillars of the Polonnaruwa vatadage; the colourful costumes, movements and rhythms of Ves or Naiyandi dances."
Nigel Osborne MBE, FRCM
Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh, UK

 “Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka first performed at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Friday 30th July 2010, representing Sri Lanka in St. Martin’s Pianists of the World Series. Dr. Ekanayaka is a very intuitive performer, her interpretation of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 15 in D being a prime example of her exceptional technical accuracy and sympathy to the emotional contrasts of this work. The audience for this concert was the highest of the month at 404. Dr. Ekanayaka returned to us in 2012. Once again, Dr. Ekanayaka attracted the highest audience of the month, with 448 of our patrons enraptured by her performance. Based on her success in these two recitals, we invited Dr. Ekanayaka to take part in our 2013 series, again to represent Sri Lanka in the Pianists of the World Series on October 25th. With this performance the audience was 501, one of our largest of the year. Her performances and compositions are of an exceptional quality and from my experience I believe her to be an incredible asset to classical music in the UK.”
Concerts Management, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Tanya Ekanayaka: ‘Adahas-Of Wings Of Roots’
"In Adahas: of Wings of Roots, Ekanayaka filtered her thoughts on traditional Sri Lankan music through the prism of classical music. She also paid homage to the other pieces on the programme by making the motif of their key signatures a central theme. The blend of styles worked well."  
The Scotsman  
“A virtuosic work, based on romanticism but with a strong influence of Sri Lankan dramaticism.”
Concerts Management, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Tanya Ekanayaka: ‘Dhaivaya: Alter(ing) Hue’
“This work exemplifies her ability as a contemporary composer to combine technical brilliance, innovative ideas especially in terms of rhythmic devices, while maintaining a pleasant melodic inclusivity, appealing to both our die-hard contemporary music audience and those who are new to this genre.”
Concerts Management, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Rachmaninov: Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 3, No. 2
“Dr. Ekanayaka’s performance was sublime…one of the standout performances of 2012.”
Concerts Management, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
"Tanya Ekanayaka could be viewed as a pianist from the top drawer due to her ability to blend sparkling technique with poetic imagination and artistic flair. She is a true artist, for she possesses a variety of coloristic resources.
The stiffest hurdle for the pianist in this robust, emotionally-charged C minor concerto is the celebrated cadenza towards the end of the first movement, and she cleared it with consummate ease. Her touch was sublime, and her interpretation, deeply introspective and coloristic. The slow movement contains a hauntingly beautiful melody to which she gave a lofty, artistic interpretation. In the ebullient third movement, she slipped into top gear and performed the rondo with rhythmic elan and delicate brushstrokes worthy of a Fragonard painting. It was a thrilling performance from beginning to end, cemented by a powerful rapport between conductor and soloist."
The Daily News of Sri Lanka  
Tanya Ekanayaka:  ‘Vannam (Gajaga, Hanuma, Mayura) & You’
“‘Vannam & You’ based around the tonal centres of the Haydn Sonata, and the charmingly played Für Elise which followed, opened arrestingly. It was full of rhapsodic flourishes and more than a soupcon of modal exoticism. The scintillating, shimmering cadenzas, ever reaching into the highest register of the keyboard, were particularly effective here.”
Musical Opinion Quarterly, UK (January-March 2014 edition)
Tanya Ekanayaka: ‘In Lotus; Olu Pipila With Moment’
“ ‘In Lotus; Olu Pipila With Moment’ had fetching languid and pensive moments; there were mystical overtones here, very much evoking the music of Bloch, perhaps especially the fourth of the Visions & Prophesies. It was centred around the notes G and A, the keys of the two preceding works, Chopin’s First Ballade and Debussy’s L’isle Joyeuse.”
Musical Opinion Quarterly, UK (January-March 2014 edition)
Beethoven: Sonata in C Major (Waldstein) Op.53  
"A mature performance which held our attention throughout! Beautifully realized.”
LGSMD Pianoforte Performance Reviews
Chopin: Ballade in G minor No.1 Op.23
"Tanya Ekanayaka, in her rendition of the popular but difficult Chopin Ballade, proved herself equal to its technical challenge with a flawless execution. She captured, too, the theatrical brilliance of the piece."
The Island newspaper of Sri Lanka
Ravel: Jeux d'eau
"Exquisite shading of tone was demonstrated in Jeux d'eau with subtle 'colouring' entirely appropriate for Ravel's music."
FTCL Pianoforte Performance Reviews
"The shimmer and sparkle of cascading water in Ravel's Jeux d'eau was well-captured with a lightness of touch and mood."
The Scotsman