Beethoven sonatas anchor Tuesday Musical performance - Omaha.com
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Pianist Jonathan Biss will perform Tuesday as part of the Tuesday Musical Concert Series.(Photo by Jillian Edelstein)
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Pianist Jonathan Biss (credit) Jillian Edelstein


TUESDAY MUSICAL

Beethoven sonatas anchor Tuesday Musical performance
By Howard K. Marcus
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


For pianist Jonathan Biss, life is a balance of performance, teaching and recording.

Biss, who will perform Tuesday as part of the Tuesday Musical Concert Series, has a full slate of upcoming concerts in the United States and around the world.

IF YOU GO

What: Recital by pianist Jonathan Biss

Where: Witherspoon Concert Hall, 2200 Dodge St.

When: 7:15 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $35 adults, $5.75 students

Information: 402-551-2234, www.tuesdaymusicalomaha.org or “Tuesday Musical Omaha” on Facebook

But he also is in his first year as a teacher at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 2001.

The day he was interviewed by phone, Biss had spent nearly 10 hours listening to auditions by dozens of potential students.

"We listen to 10 minutes each. And that's nothing. I think about the way the first 10 minutes of a concert feels initially. That's never when you're most open and relaxed," he said.

"I find myself very empathetic to what they're going through. I remember what it felt like to be auditioning, to feel that pressure."

Biss will have well more than 10 minutes to display his skills during his Tuesday Musical recital, which will be anchored by three Beethoven sonatas.

Two of the sonatas — Opus 10, No. 1 and "Les Adieux," Opus 81A — are on the first CD of a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of all Beethoven sonatas. The first CD came out in January.

The third sonata he will perform, Opus 27, No. 2, better known as the "Moonight Sonata," will appear on the next CD.

"The thing about the Beethoven sonatas is that the level is so astonishingly high — uniformly high. You go from one to the next and they're all kind of pretty awe-inspiring," he said. "As a body of music, as a collection of pieces, they are incredibly important to me."

During the concert, Biss will intersperse the Beethoven sonatas with two other works, both of which he said are essentially reactions to Beethoven.

The first work is "In the Mists," written by Czech composer Leos Janacek in 1912. Though Janacek's music differs substantially from Beethoven, Biss can make a connection between the composers. "There is this enormous intensity that they have in common," he said.

The other non-Beethoven piece, "Lunaire Variations," was written for Biss by composer David Ludwig. The work received its world premiere last week.

Biss, 31, began studying piano at age 6. With a performance career established, he now strives for the right balance of teaching and performing.

"I really do love doing both," he said. "Every year my priorities shift this way or that way a little bit. So it's sort of a constant conversation that I have with myself about how to plan my life. What interests me the most is just engaging with music. I'd like for that to be on as many levels as possible."

The performance will mark Biss's second appearance with Tuesday Musical. His mother, violinist Miriam Fried, appeared as part of the series in 1978.

Contact the writer: Howard K. Marcus

howard.marcus@owh.com    |   402-444-1397    |  

Howard works on dozens of special sections each year, with varied duties that include copy editing, writing and photography. Topics run the gamut but include architecture, business, college planning, employment, health and more.


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