Pianist Brian Ganz will offer a free mini-recital of his all-Chopin concert on Friday, February 7 at 7:30 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, 333 Dubois Road. The recital will be a preview of Ganz’s next all-Chopin recital “Chopin the Storyteller” at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda on February 22. At the February 7 preview Ganz will play and discuss a few pieces from the Strathmore program, take some Chopin requests, answer questions and share details about the Chopin Project. The event is free but donations to the church are requested. For more information visit http://www.uuannapolis.org or call 410-266-8044.
Four years ago, pianist Brian Ganz began his “Extreme Chopin” quest to perform all of Frédéric Chopin’s works. That sold out recital at the Music Center at Strathmore launched Ganz’s ambitious endeavor to perform the approximately 250 works of Chopin over the next decade. The next concert in the series will take place at Strathmore on February 22 at 8 pm. 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.”