Sarasota Orchestra soloist started early with Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto
So is Rachmaninoff’s towering Piano Concerto No. 3 “devilishly difficult,” as the Sarasota Orchestra website describes next weekend’s concert?
“In a nutshell, yes,” said Garrick Ohlsson, the pianist who will partner with the guest conductor. Jeffrey Kahane and the whole orchestra to perform the infamous “Rach 3”. “It was written by one of the greatest pianists who ever lived. He was a great virtuoso; he wrote it for himself. There was nothing a pianist could do that he couldn’t do.
Artistic newsletter: Sign up for the latest news on the Sarasota-area arts scene every Monday
A new house ? : Sarasota Orchestra May Have Site For New Music Center By Spring
Enrolled in Juilliard School at age 13, Ohlsson first met Rach 3 in New York, hearing Jerome Lowenthal perform under the baton of the legendary Leonard Bernstein.
He was “very surprised” when he was 15 and his piano teacher asked him to learn the concerto over the summer, telling him, “If you learn it now, you will never have one.” fear “. It didn’t hurt that he was already 6ft 2in tall and had large hands useful in large scale piano work.
Since then, award-winning Ohlsson has performed it dozens of times, possibly up to a hundred, including at least one previous performance in Sarasota.
“It’s more of a beloved favorite,” he said. “I know it now so well it’s part of my hard drive. “
Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote the concerto in 1909 and dedicated it to another piano giant, his good friend Josef Hofmann, who for unknown reasons never played it. Vladimir Horowitz made it a flagship work in the 1930s, and the concerto became part of popular culture with the 1996 film “Shine,” in which John Gielgud described it as a mega-monster piece.
Ohlsson joined Kirill Gerstein for a duet piano performance and conversation in February for the Sarasota Concert Association, which included another piece by Rachmaninoff, “Symphonic Dances”.
The Sarasota Orchestra concerts will be conducted by Kahane, who served as the orchestra’s artistic advisor during the period leading up to the arrival of the appointed Music Director. Bramwell Tovey, and is now the musical director of the orchestra Sarasota Music Festival.
Meet Bramwell Tovey: New Orchestra Director Eager to Meet Sarasota Audiences at First Concert
The two have worked together before.
“He was one of the pianists and musicians that I admire the most,” Kahane said. “He has been my hero for a very long time. So when the Sarasota Orchestra invited me to conduct this program and said Garrick would be the soloist, I was over the moon.
The program also includes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, which “has been a piece that has been close to my heart for a long time,” said Kahane.
“What I like about it is that (the program) has two very different versions of the Romantic Spirit. They are two deeply romantic pieces but coming from completely different places,” he said. .
Brahms writes with the spirit of a romantic but also with the specific kind of attention to formal detail as a classical composer. His models were Mozart, Haydn, Schubert. He lived until 1897, when Rachmaninoff was a very young man. There is always this wonderful tension in Brahms’ music between classical and true romantic. It is a magnificent foil for the Rachmaninoff, who is at first very Russian, as Russian as he may be.
Ohlsson plays Rachmaninoff
Masterpieces of the Sarasota Orchestra. 8 p.m. Jan. 7 and 8, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 9, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets from $ 35 to $ 98. Classic Conversation with Jeffrey Kahane, 10:30 a.m. Jan. 6, Holley Hall, Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets $ 11 in advance, $ 16 at the door. 941-953-3434; sarasotaorchestra.org
This article originally appeared on the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Guest pianist Garrick Ohlsson talks about the challenge of Rachmaninoff’s concerto