Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Brian Ganz plays Chopin at the Strathmore

This past weekend I went to the Strathmore to see the pianist Brian Ganz perform pieces composed by Chopin. I have seen Ganz perform several times, and I absolutely love him! You can so clearly see his passion and joy for playing the piano. I also enjoyed that during this particular performance, he would take the time to tell the audience about a certain piece, where Chopin was in his life during that time, etc. So this was a very educational program, too!

Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9 (I was glad I could find this video that actually features Ganz!)

Here's a video of all 3 Nocturnes, Op. 9 that Ganz played:

Then Ganz moved on to play a few of Chopin's polonaises. He played three separate ones: the first was written when Chopin was very young, the next when he was a teenager, and the third as a young man. Ganz explained that the first one is very "glittery" with not much behind the music; the second shows some "teenage bravado," and the third is noticeably deeper and has more to say.

Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. Posth. (I specifically picked this video because Chopin wrote this piece when he was 11 years old (!), so I thought it would be appropriate to show a child playing this piece).

Polonaise in G-sharp minor, Op. Posth. (Again, I chose this video because Chopin wrote this one at age 15, so here is a teenager playing this one.)

Polonaise in C-sharp minor, Op. 26, No. 1 (This was a more mature piece, so you can see the transition in the music from boy to man [feat. Ganz].)

After intermission, Ganz played three mazurkas, again starting with one that Chopin wrote as a young boy, and finishing with one he wrote as a man, although still only in his 20's. 

Mazurka in G Major (I'm not 100% sure this is the right piece...)

(If you really like these pieces, listen to all of Chopin's mazurkas here.)

And to finish, Ganz performed 12 √Čtudes, Op. 10. These are studies Chopin wrote, so they are supposed to be exercises for pianists to gain flexibility in their hands, etc. I won't include all of them here, but here are a few (These videos were not filmed from the performance I saw, but they still feature Ganz.):

No. 3 in E Major

No. 4 in C-sharp minor

No. 5 in G-flat Major (Almost all of the notes played in this piece use the black keys. It's interesting to hear the difference when you know what to listen for!)

No. 12 in C minor ("Revolutionary")

What an incredible evening! I love Ganz's enamored relationship with the piano, his appreciation for the history behind the music, and his fun method of teaching audiences about the pieces and composers that Ganz has loved his entire life.

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