Sunday pick: Garrick Ohlsson returns to Keyboard Concerts
The Philip Lorenz International Keyboard Concerts series, which has long been a way for Fresno-area piano lovers to hear world-class performers, kicks off its new season on Sunday, Sept. 8, with one of its very favorite artists:
The beloved Garrick Ohlsson.
Ohlsson, who was the first and only American to win a gold medal at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, is a giant among contemporary concert pianists. His position as a faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music gives him easy access to Fresno, and he’s been a fixture of the Keyboard series.
“It’s safe to say that Garrick has had the most appearances of any artist during the series’ 48 year history — this is probably his seventh or eighth recital,” says artistic director Andreas Werz.
Ohlsson will play an all-Brahms program on Sunday, and for good reason.
In the 2018/19 season he launched an ambitious project spread over two seasons exploring the complete solo piano works of Brahms in four different programs, Werz explains. The cycle will be heard in New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Los Angeles, London and a number of cities across North America, culminating in Tanglewood next summer.
“Last season he presented to us the first installment,” Werz says, “and this concert will be the third installment of the project.”
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The program features the composer’s “Two Rhapsodies,” Op.79; “Seven Fantasies,” Op.116; “Variations on a Theme by Paganini,” Op.35 (Book II); and the Sonata in F Minor, Op.5.
It’s hard for Werz to pick a favorite of the Brahms pieces that Ohlsson will be playing.
“I love every single piece of Brahms — each one is so masterful and profound. Maybe the Paganini Variations Book II are the most difficult top play, from a technical standpoint. But then maybe the Sonata Op.5 is the most demanding because of its large scale architecture – it comes in 5 movements and lasts close to 40 minutes.”
The Keyboard series is looking forward to a vibrant series of presenting seasoned artists and young competition winners from diverse backgrounds performing repertoire that spans from the Baroque to the 21st century, Werz adds. This year’s sub-series features young Armenian pianists, including Fresno’s own Michael Krikorian.
Also new: Friday concerts will now begin at 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.