This season, a bumper crop of pianists

Arts / Article

This year promises to be an unusually fine one for those of us who love the art of the piano. Beginning with Chopin Competition winner Claire Huangci this Sunday at Festival Miami and ending next May with Lang Lang at the Arsht Center, an impressive parade of keyboard artists is making its way through South Florida.

In addition to the major, established names arriving here, including Evgeny Kissin, Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman, Jerome Lowenthal, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Vladimir Feltsman, there are plenty of places to hear newer players on the rise.

Next month, Miami’s Chopin Foundation welcomes Eduard Kunz (pictured above), who made a BBC Music Magazine list of the 10 greatest pianists of tomorrow and who’s played with a long and laudable list of fine orchestras all over Europe. He’s playing a program of Paderewski, Chopin (of course) and Liszt at his two free recitals, the first of which is on the afternoon of Nov. 5 at the Broward Main Library in Fort Lauderdale and the second on the next afternoon, Nov. 6, at Granada Presbyterian in Coral Gables.

He’s a strong player and has the kind of Romantic approach that audiences are instinctively drawn to, of which the Russian-born Kunz is able to summon easily. Many videos of his work are on YouTube, today’s indispensable research aide, and I like this one from his appearance at the Cliburn Competition in 2009: He treats these Scarlatti sonatas somewhat in the manner of Horowitz, with a melancholy intimacy that makes them as poetic as a Chopin mazurka.

Another fine pianist who is little-known in this country is Spain’s Javier Perianes, who appears this Sunday in a chamber concert at the New World Center of French music. Perianes will play in the last work on the program, the big, unjustly neglected Piano Quintet in F minor of Cesar Franck. Also on the program, to be played by New World Fellows, are pieces by Rameau (the Fifth Clavecin Concert) and Dutilleux (“Les Citations”).

On the New World’s opening program next weekend, Perianes is in the driver’s seat for the Schumann Piano Concerto. The two concerts, under Michael Tilson Thomas (Oct. 15 and 16), also include the world premiere of “Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula,” by the American composer James Lee III. Perianes plays the Beethoven Fourth Concerto here with a strict attention to articulation, which, to me, makes the Classical-Romantic juncture at which this music lies, palpable.

And on Oct. 23, the Miami Symphony brings the young Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear to the stage of the Knight Concert Hall for the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1, on a program with another major canonical work, the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven. The orchestra will also have a world premiere, as its principal trumpeter, Sam Hyken, offers an hommage to Benjamin Britten with his “Beatles’ Guide to the Orchestra.”

Goodyear is a devoted Beethoven player, and he’s particularly fond of the “Hammerklavier” Sonata, Beethoven’s longest, most experimental sonata, a huge challenge for pianists and audience alike. Here, he tosses off that bizarre fugue theme with clarity, poise and great evenness, which helps us follow the twists and turns to which Beethoven subjects it.

All of these players — though admittedly just judging by recordings — are musicians of first-class talent, and they’re only part of the first wave of a season that will put piano aficionados in their own special heaven.