5 Fine Pianists Lined Up For Chopin’s 200th And Chopin Society’s 25t

Rob Hubbard

Pioneer Press
June 9 2009

It’s 200 for Chopin … and 25 for the Chopin Society. Next year
marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederic Chopin, the
composer who transformed the way people think of the piano with his
richly expressive solo works. And this year marks the 25th anniversary
of the birth of the Chopin Society, which presents five recitals a
season from talented pianists, some on their way to stardom, some
having already achieved it.

The Chopin Society has announced the lineup for its 2009-10 season
of concerts at Macalester College’s Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center
in St. Paul. And there will be a lot more than just music of the
birthday boy, Chopin, ranging from baroque to brand new.

Nareh Arghamanyan (Oct. 4): This 20-year-old Armenian pianist won
first prize at last year’s Montreal International Competition,
despite being the youngest in the field. She recently released her
debut CD of sonatas by Liszt and Rachmaninoff, and will perform some
Liszt here, as well some Mendelssohn (also celebrating his 200th),
Beethoven and Schumann.

Joyce Yang (Nov. 8): Sunday night, America’s most prestigious battle
of the pianists, the Van Cliburn Competition, concluded in Texas. Many
an ascent to stardom started at the Cliburn, including that of Joyce
Yang. Since taking silver there in 2005, this native of South Korea
has proven so strong in concert that her debut disc is a collection
of live performances.

Jeremy Denk (Jan. 31): Twin Cities audiences may know Denk as a team
player, since he accompanied violinist Joshua Bell on his most recent
Schubert Club recital and filled in for Pierre-Laurent Aimard on the
Beethoven Triple Concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. But
the lone American on this year’s Chopin Society season is also an
outstanding soloist, and an exceptionally thoughtful and funny writer,
as evidenced by his popular blog about life in the classical music biz,
Think Denk. Benjamin Grosvenor (Feb. 28): This English pianist wowed
a local audience when he made his American debut at a Chopin Society
recital at the age of 13. Now 17, Grosvenor returns with his career in
full swing, thanks to some very prominent (and critically acclaimed)
European engagements.

Janina Fialkowska (May 2): A battle with cancer earlier this decade
proved to be merely an interruption in the career of this outstanding
Canadian pianist, whose return to form has created quite a buzz in
classical circles. Her season-ending all-Chopin recital doubles as
a tribute to her mentor, the legendary Arthur Rubinstein.

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