Manitoba Chamber Orchestra: Jan Lisiecki, ‘the most complete pianist of his age’, performs Ravel with the MCO, April 24
Now in his early 20s, Jan Lisiecki has been called a "prodigy" (CBC), "the most 'complete' pianist of his age" (BBC Music Magazine), and even a Mozart of our times.
Interviews suggest that Lisiecki rebuffs such labels. What's certain is that those lucky enough to see him perform at this age are privy to a golden moment in the artist's career. While he's achieved a level of musical mastery that would be the envy of most mature musicians, he can still be seen playing in merry prairie venues — where the average concertgoer won't be forced to squeeze into some far-off 'standing-room'!
The rise of Lisiecki's star has been meteoric. Born in Calgary to a Polish family of non-musicians, he began playing the piano at age five after a school counsellor suggested to his parents that they 'impose' conservatory music lessons on him. But apparently he did not, like so many of us, rebel against the strictures of the
conservatory, and quickly wowed his tutors with his natural musical talents. Six or seven years later, those talents caught the attention of musical heavyweight Howard Shelley, who went on to conduct Lisiecki in recordings of Chopin. Today Lisiecki shares the stage with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and James Ehnes in iconic
settings such as Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonic Concert Hall—in addition, of course, to Westminster Church, where he's already performed with the MCO three times.
At our April evening and matinee concerts, Lisiecki will strut his stuff, performing a piece that demands swagger: Ravel's wonderfully flamboyant, jazz-inflected Piano Concerto in G major.
Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major
Composed (1929-1931) at a remarkable moment in music history when popular American jazz and European modern music struck up a fleeting affair, the concerto evokes the decadence and confidence of the Roaring Twenties. Notwithstanding its raunchy character, the work is the product of almost obsessive
meticulousness. "How I worked over it bar by bar! It nearly killed me!" recalled Ravel. "The G-major Concerto took two years of work, you know. The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London. But the initial idea is nothing. The work of chiselling then began."
Watch the concert video here.
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