While Cristina Ortiz has been identified with Brazilian and Spanish piano music, not least because of her spirited interpretations of works by Villa-Lobos, De Falla, and Granados, she has achieved acclaim in such a broad range of repertory, it would be unfair to call her a specialist. Indeed, her repertory includes all the concertos of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, and Rachmaninov, 15 by Mozart, three by Prokofiev, and scores of solo pieces by these and other composers out of the Spanish and Latin spheres. She has also delved heavily into chamber music, performing just as broad a spectrum of pieces, including music by Dvorák, Elgar, Fauré, and Shostakovich. In this genre she has collaborated with violinists Boris Belkin and Uto Ughi, cellist Antonio Meneses, clarinetist Dmitri Ashkenazy, and with various chamber ensembles, such as the Chilingirian Quartet and Prague Wind Quintet. She has appeared in recital at the most prestigious concert venues and with the major orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, London, and Sao Paulo. In the new century Ortiz has given concerts, usually of Mozart concertos, while conducting from the keyboard. She has also held master classes at Juilliard and London's Royal College of Music. Ortiz has made over 30 recordings spread over a variety of labels, including EMI, Decca, Collins Classics, Naxos, BIS, and others.
Cristina Ortiz was born in Bahia, Brazil, on April 17, 1950. She was an astonishing prodigy, playing the piano at two and beginning studies at the Brazilian Conservatory of Music at eight. She had advanced studies with Magda Tagliaferro at the Paris Conservatory, and went to win, among other competitions, the third Van Cliburn in 1969. She had further studies at the Curtis Institute with Rudolf Serkin, even while her career was on the ascent. Ortiz made her first recording in 1974, Lambert's Rio Grande, for EMI, and then two more for the same label the following year, LPs of the Shostakovich concertos and of piano music by Villa-Lobos, Guarnieri, and others.
Ortiz relocated to London and continued to appear regularly in recital, and with orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the next decades. In 1996 she gave the highly successful American premiere of Guarnieri's Chôro at Carnegie Hall, with conductor Dennis Russell Davies. In the new century Ortiz is active as ever: her 2010 touring schedule included appearances in France, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, and the U.K.