BRATTLEBORO -- On Friday at 7:30 p.m., the Brattleboro Music Center’s Chamber Music Series presents acclaimed American pianist Jonathan Biss at Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St.
Hailed as "one of the most thoughtful and technically accomplished pianists of the younger generation" (BBC Music Magazine), Biss has embarked on an ambitious project to record the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas.
"His journey will be well worth following," proclaimed The New York Times, and Brattleboro’s audience will get the chance to do so live when the intrepid pianist performs two of the sonatas from the cycle, including the "Waldstein," in a recital with works by Brahms, Chopin and György Kurtág. Biss will perform the same program at Carnegie Hall the following week.
Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings. He performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, Timo Andres and Bernard Rands.
In the 2013-14 season, Biss’ orchestral engagements include the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, NDR Hannover, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus, among others.
Biss continues to play in the major recital series in the U.S. and in Europe -- he twice opened the Master Piano Series at the Concertgebouw, Salzburg, Lucerne, and Edinburgh Festivals, the Beethovenfest, Bonn and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg.
Biss made his much-anticipated Carnegie Hall debut in January 2011 with a program of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Janácek and a work written for him by Bernard Rands.
In 2012 Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete sonatas. Biss wrote about this recording project and his relationship with Beethoven’s music more generally in "Beethoven’s Shadow," an essay that was published electronically by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single, available from Amazon.com. "Beethoven’s Shadow" subsequently ranked as the best-selling music e-book title on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K. His next Kindle Single, "A Pianist Under the Influence," was released shortly thereafter.
Biss’ previous recordings include an album of Schubert’s Sonatas in A Major, D. 959 and C Major, D. 840 and two short Kurtág pieces from Játékok that was released in 2009 on the Wigmore Hall Live label and named by NPR Music as one of the best albums of the year. It follows four acclaimed recordings for EMI Classics, including an all-Schumann recital album, which won a Diapason d’Or de l’année award, and a recital album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Opp. 13, 28, 90, and 109, which received an Edison Award. With the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra he recorded Mozart Piano Concertos 21 and 22 in a live performance. His first recording for EMI Classics was of works by Beethoven and Schumann in 2004 on EMI’s Debut series.
At age 20, Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts in 2000 and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur that same season.
Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss.
Growing up surrounded by music, Biss began his piano studies at age 6, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. In 2010, Biss was appointed to Curtis’ piano faculty, and in September 2013, he and the Curtis Institute of Music partnered with Coursera to offer a free, online course on Beethoven’s piano sonatas. More than 30,000 people enrolled in the course.
Biss has won numerous awards, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Debut Artist Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.
Tickets to the Jan. 10 concert ($30, $20, $10), can be purchased by calling the Brattleboro Music Center at 802-257-4523 or visiting www.bmcvt.org.
Support for the BMC’s Chamber Music Series is provided by Vermont Public Radio.