Pianist Brian Ganz is preparing for a fourth all-Chopin recital in partnership with the National Philharmonic at The Music Center at Strathmore with a focus on Chopin as a storyteller. Ganz’s “Extreme Chopin” quest to perform all the approximately 250 works of Chopin in this decade is nearing the halfway point. The fourth concert in the series will take place at Strathmore on February 22. Children from 7-17 are free. For more information or to purchase tickets visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-581-5100.
The February recital features 10 of Chopin’s masterpieces of narrative and emotional power, including the superbly crafted Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52; the Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4, one of Chopin’s most soulful and mysterious works; the epic Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1; the tender and storied Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1 (“L’Adieu”); as well as the lighthearted and humorous Scherzo No. 4, Op. 54.
Ganz received glowing reviews after his previous capacity “Extreme Chopin” concerts. An audience of about 2,000 attended the inaugural January 2011 concert, after which the Washington Post wrote: “Brian Ganz was masterly in his first installment of the complete works.” After the third sold out recital in 2013 Washington Post reviewer Grace Jean wrote, “It’s easy to see why so many Washingtonians flocked to hear pianist Brian Ganz…in his hands, the rarely performed Trois Ecossaises, Op.72, No. 3, became effervescent light beams.”
For the February 22 recital Ganz will explore the theme “Chopin the Storyteller.” “The centerpiece of the program will be the 4th of Chopin’s four ballades, a work that would appear on most pianists’ short list of the greatest works ever composed for the piano,” Ganz said. “Chopin is often called the ‘Poet of the Piano,’ and a ballade is a poem which tells a story. So in his ballades Chopin’s poetic gifts merge with his knack for telling a great story. It’s not surprising that all four are masterpieces, but the fourth is usually considered the best.”
Ganz is often asked, “How can music tell a story without the benefit of words?” His reply: “Chopin knew how to create a sense of musical ‘home base,’ and then take the listener on a wide-ranging adventure through other keys and textures and moods, with different kinds of climaxes along the way, until he returns the listener home, sometimes with an almost unbearable intensity of emotion and catharsis. He does that in the 4th Ballade and also several other works on this program, including what is often considered his finest nocturne, the great C minor, Op. 48, No. 1.”