The Times critic Bernard Holland, who reviewed a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1988, wrote that Mr. Toradze “usual extravagance would not suit the classical restraint of this music, so his tactic was to go to the other extreme. ” The results, he said, “switched between the strange and the inaudible.”
Mr Toradze acknowledged such reactions. “I always expect outrageous attacks,” he said in a 1992 interview with The Baltimore Sun.
Alexander Davidovich Toradze was born on May 30, 1952 in Tbilisi, Georgia, the son of the composer David Toradze and the actress Liana Asatiani. He attended the Special Music School for Gifted Children in Tbilisi and the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1978.
While a student in Moscow, Mr. Toradze listened to illegal broadcasts of the Voice of America program “Jazz Hour.” For him, he said, jazz stood for artistic freedom. While performing in Portland, Oregon in 1978 on a Soviet-sponsored tour, he learned that Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson would perform twice the following day. To the chagrin of his manager, he decided to skip a rehearsal in Miami to attend the concerts. Ms. Fitzgerald invited him on stage, where he told her she was a “goddess to the people of the Soviet Union.”
The small catalog of Mr. Toradze includes a 1998 disc of Prokofiev’s five piano concertos, with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra, and Shostakovich Piano Concertos, with Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony.
Mr. Toradze, a practicing Orthodox Christian, advised young performers to make it a habit to pray before performances. About Liszt’s variations on a Bach theme, he told The Times in 1986: “Bach’s cantata describes worrying, complaining, doubting and crying. Many of these feelings were part of my life. But the piece moves steadily and heavily towards a fantastic closing chorale in a major key, with the words: ‘What God is doing is well done.’ That is my credo.”