Concert Review: Jonathan Biss

Jonathan Biss

Considered “one of the most thoughtful and technically accomplished pianists of the younger generation” (BBC Music Magazine), Jonathan Biss returned to the PCMS stage on January 22, 2015, performing works by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Schumann and Berg at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. Philadelphia Inquirer Classical Music Critic Peter Dobrin and Seen and Heard International Critic Bernard Jacobson were in attendance to review the performance.

In his Inquirer review, entitled "Jonathan Biss connects with Beethoven", Dobrin states that "there has never been any doubt that Biss has the tools to do anything he wants." Of his interpretations of the Second Viennese School composers, he states that "his studious precsion served Schoenberg well, and he encompassed an entire emotional world (fervent, conciliatory, overwrought) in Berg's Op. 1 Piano Sonata. Beethoven, however, "came across as his primary love," with the Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1 "exquisitely conceived... the third movement was a world unto itself... here he is as provocative an individual as any of his great keyboard predecessors." Read the full review on Philly.com.

After praising Biss's collaboration with tenor Mark Padmore earlier this season, Jacobson, in his piece for Seen and Heard International, declares here that "there are clearly two Jonathan Bisses"–as also attested in the title of the piece:  "Assessing Two Pianists–in One." Jacobson lauds Biss's performances of the Berg and Schoenberg works–"by far the best playing of the evening"– as well as the "positively magical quiet lyricism" of the encore (Mozart's C-major Sonata, K. 330) while expressing "some more negative impressions" of the Beethoven sonatas which overall, in his estimation, rendered it a recital of "only intermittent beauties." Read the full review on Seen and Heard International.

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