Chopin Piano Concert.
Top pianist Brian Ganz is going to play every known composition Frederic Chopin published. “It was a dream from early childhood,” he said. There are over 250 works in Chopin’s catalogue, and Ganz will play them all in what he dubs “the Extreme Chopin Project.” He anticipates that it may take over a decade of annual performances to play the body of work.
His childhood dream came closer to reality Sunday when he performed for a crowd of over 200 at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Frederick. The program was themed around Chopin’s mazurkas, traditional Polish dance music written in triple meter. Ganz played the mazurkas as well as pieces that used the idea of them, but were written in a different style, such as a waltz or nocturne. The pianist spoke with the audience throughout the performance to illuminate how the program’s theme fit into each piece. The mazurkas speak to Ganz, he said, because they are creative, melancholy and musically complex.
“That’s what I love about them most — they’re just kind of challenging and rewarding to the ear,” he said. Ganz came from a music family and his love for Chopin began early. He had hoped to do a project like the Extreme Chopin Project, but it wasn’t until 2009 that Piotr Gajewski, artistic director and conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, spurred him to do it. The first recital was in 2011 and Ganz has been performing Chopin annually since at Calvary’s Community Concert Series and at Strathmore in Bethesda.
“People love him, and he loves being there,” said Joche Wilmot, director of music ministries and organist at Calvary United Methodist Church. “It’s been a really nice partnership.” Wilmot said he would be happy to have Ganz at the series even after he completes his Chopin project.
Maury Ward, of Rockville, attended Sunday’s performance in Frederick. He had seen Ganz play Chopin before and came back because he was a fan.
“He does Chopin very well,” he said. “We literally have this on our calendars.”