Jonathan Biss | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jonathan Biss

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Last month 23-year-old Jonathan Biss made his Chicago debut, playing two short Schumann piano concerti with the Staatskapelle Berlin that had originally been on Radu Lupu's schedule. He took full advantage of the opportunity with a superb performance. He had it all--an amazing sound, an enormous tonal range, brilliant technique, emotional depth. Every phrase, every flourish was shaped, at the expense of nothing. Biss has been surrounded his whole life by remarkable musicians. His mother, Miriam Fried, is a world-famous violinist (and the faculty chairman of Ravinia's Steans Institute), and his father, Paul Biss, is a chamber musician who teaches violin and viola at Indiana University. His grandmother was cellist Raya Garbousova, for whom Samuel Barber wrote his cello concerto. Biss studied with Leon Fleisher at the Curtis Institute and has won many awards, including the Gilmore Young Artist Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He's already performed in Europe, Canada, Israel, and the U.S. and has shared the stage with, among others, Midori, Isaac Stern, and Andras Schiff. His Mandel Hall program is impressive: Beethoven's Sonata op. 110, a work of profound depth whose third and fourth movements represent some of Beethoven's best writing for the piano; Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze, essentially a song cycle written for the piano; Alban Berg's romantic Sonata op. 1; and Leon Kirchner's intense 1989 Interlude and his 2003 Interlude 2, commissioned by the BBC at Biss's request and dedicated to and premiered by him. This young man is destined for stardom--you may never again get to hear him for ten bucks. Tuesday, February 10, 7:30 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 773-702-8068.

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