What’s better than one of our time’s greatest pianists arriving in Sarasota for three performances at the Van Wezel? How about two pianists: one at the keyboard, and the other on the podium? Such an abundance of riches will be offered January 7–9, 2022, as Sarasota Orchestra’s third Masterworks program of the season, Ohlsson Plays Rachmaninoff, features the towering genius of world-renowned pianist Garrick Ohlsson.
Revered worldwide for his extraordinary technique and enormous power at the keyboard, Ohlsson, accompanied by Sarasota Orchestra, will perform Rachmaninoff’s massive Piano Concerto No. 3, one of the most fiendishly difficult works in the entire repertoire. Known for pushing pianists to their limits in terms of both stamina and technique, Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto represents something of a rite of passage for aspiring piano soloists. Grammy Award–winning Ohlsson long ago mastered its intricacies, and the opportunity to hear this majestic work in performance by someone of his stature should not be missed.
The concert opens with one of the sunniest symphonies Johannes Brahms ever composed, his bucolic Symphony No. 2, written during a carefree summer spent in a lakeside village in Austria. Brahms himself described the village as a place where “the melodies fly so thick that you have to be careful not to step on one.” Indeed, the Symphony No. 2 is overflowing with a serenity and joy that are impossible to resist.
Leading Sarasota Orchestra in these three performances will be Jeffrey Kahane, Music Director of the Sarasota Music Festival (SMF) and himself an extraordinary pianist. Kahane spent a decade touring the world as a piano soloist prior to taking the helm of the Santa Rosa Symphony in 1995 and then the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1997, where he had an extraordinary 20-year tenure. He has since added professor to his resume, having assumed a full professorship at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in 2016.
No stranger to Sarasota, Kahane was appointed in 2016 to SMF’s artistic leadership, where he has continued to add to the reputation of Sarasota Orchestra’s prestigious chamber music program. Most recently, he served as Artistic Advisor to Sarasota Orchestra during the period between Anu Tali’s and Bramwell Tovey’s directorships.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these concerts will be the opportunity to watch two of the world’s greatest pianists in collaboration. Having a conductor with Kahane’s intimate knowledge of the piano partnering with keyboard icon Ohlsson, performing one of the most challenging works in the classical repertoire, is an artistic moment not to be missed.
Visit Sarasota Orchestra’s website to learn more and purchase tickets to Masterworks: Ohlsson Plays Rachmaninoff.