Brian Ganz readies a Beethoven blowout
By Anthony Sclafani
Columbia-bred classical pianist Brian Ganz may have achieved worldwide acclaim, but he can't keep from coming back to his old stomping grounds. Area music groups and fans won't stop asking for more -- which is why the Sundays At Three concert series is hosting the Wilde Lake High School alum again in a new program Sunday, Nov. 2.
Ganz's appeal goes well beyond his considerable technical skills, if you ask Ronald Mutchnik, artistic director of Sundays At Three. According to Mutchnik, the pianist's onstage persona is as inspiring as his sound.
"Brian Ganz is one of the few artists around who has a very deep connection with his audience," Mutchnik notes. "The minute he walks out on stage, you just see right away that he's glad to be there. He doesn't seem to be nervous; he doesn't seem to be aloof. You feel like somebody's going to present something very special, and he has a very direct connection with you."
So great is Ganz's appeal, says Mutchnik, that after his concerts listeners will often remark that they feel he's "personally communicating with them."
"We need that in this world, because the concept of a lot of classical music is that you have to be dressed up in a very formal way, and you appear very serious and brooding."
Of course, Ganz is no slouch when it comes to credentials, either. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied under piano legend Leon Fleisher. In 1989, he won a First Grand Prize at the Marguerite Long Jacques Thibaud International Piano Competition in Paris.
Over the years, Ganz has also performed under such star conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Pinchas Zukerman and Leon Fleisher.
"I think his technique is one of great ease," Mutchnik muses. "You always feel that whatever he intends to have come out is going to come out the way he wants it. Whatever the volume is, whatever the speed is, whatever he's thinking to do just naturally travels from his fingers to the keyboard."
These days, Ganz divides his time between playing concerts around the world and teaching at Peabody and St. Mary's College of Maryland. For his upcoming appearance, Ganz will perform several works by Beethoven: Sonata in A Major, Op. 10, No. 2; Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3; Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, "Pathetique"; as well as Beethoven bagatelles and rondos.
Mutchnik says the concert's closing number, the beloved "Pathetique," should be a special treat in Ganz's hands.
"If Beethoven had written even that alone he would be ranked as one of the great composers," Mutchnik notes. "Beethoven is not known for his melodies in the way that Tchaikovsky or Mozart is. But on occasion, he could write the most heart-wrenching melodies. And the slow movement of 'Pathetique' qualifies."
Brian Ganz will perform as part of the Sundays At Three concert series Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. in Christ Episcopal Church, located at Oakland Mills Road opposite Dobbin Road. Admission is $15 general, free for anyone under 18 when accompanied by an adult. Audience members can meet Ganz after the performance. Call 410-992-0145.