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Jan Lisiecki records ambitious 3-CD set of Beethoven concertos, returns home to perform with CPO / Calgary Herald

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When Jan Lisiecki was asked to take the place of American pianist Murray Perahia for a series of concerts last year in Berlin, he made what may have seemed like an odd request of promoters. Perahia was to play Ludwig Van Beethoven's five piano concertos. Lisiecki was asked which of the five he would like to perform as a replacement. For the 24-year-old Calgary pianist, it was a strange question. Usually, when a musician is replacing another, he or she is asked to retain the same program or allowed to create a completely different one.

"He was intended to play all five Beethoven concertos in a cycle at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, which is a very storied and famous and beautiful hall," says Lisiecki, in an interview with Postmedia from his Calgary home. "So I thought about it a little bit and went back to them and said ‘Well, if you would like me to replace Murray, I would actually request that I do it only on the condition that I play all five concertos to respect the original idea that he had.' They were quite surprised. It's a big undertaking to play five Beethoven concertos, even with a lot of advance notice. To do it with a month of advance notice was extreme. So they were surprised.

"Then my November was insane," he adds. "Because I had my normal concerts. By no means was I sitting at home preparing. I still had a lot of other things to do, which did not include any of the Beethoven concertos."

What's even more remarkable is that the five concertos, performed with chamber orchestra The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields over three concerts in Berlin, were recorded in December of 2018. Last month, Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos was released as Lisiecki's sixth album for the Deutsche Grammophon label.

Jan Lisiecki will perform with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Oct. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Photo by Christoph Koestlin