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Beethoven sonatas and Rachmaninoff preludes will be featured in a concert by pianist Garrick Ohlsson at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts. A champion of the Romantic repertory, a brilliant interpreter of Mozart and Beethoven, and a towering presence in the international music world, Ohlsson ranks with the very finest pianists of his generation.

Concert tickets cost $20 and may be ordered by calling the Williams Center box office, (610) 330-5009.

Ohlsson will perform Beethoven’s Sonatas #26 and #32 and three works by Rachmaninoff, Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, the Prelude in C-sharp minor, and the Prelude in G minor. He will also play Rachmaninoff’s transcription of the Scherzo from Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, Ohlsson has established himself as a musician of extraordinary interpretive power and prodigious technical facility. Although he has long been regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Chopin, Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire that encompasses virtually the entire piano literature. He recently performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Blossom Festival with the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Jahja Ling. Donald Rosenberg, writing for The Plain Dealer, gave him high praise: “Ohlsson gave the outer movements a big, muscular workout that stressed the score’s romantic, rather than classical, elements. He produced massive sonorities and appeared to enjoy surveying dark and light sides of the Beethovenian force. If the slow movement was accompanied by distant fireworks, the magic wasn’t dispelled. Ohlsson maintained a sure sense of line and singing quality befitting the lyrical eloquence.”

Ohlsson’s repertoire ranges from Haydn and Mozart to 20th century masters, and he has at his command some 70 works for piano and orchestra. During the 1999-2000 season, Ohlsson performed Chopin’s First Concerto; Piano Concertos Nos. 20, 22, and 23 by Mozart; Beethoven’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Piano Concertos and the Choral Fantasy; the Grieg Piano Concerto; both Brahms Piano Concertos; Rachmaninoff’s First and Third Piano Concertos; the Copland Piano Concerto; Barber’s Piano Concerto; and the Concerto No. 2 by Wilhelm Stenhammar. In North America during the 1999-2000 season, he appeared as guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Toronto, San Francisco, Oregon, Seattle, and Indianapolis. In the summer of 1999, Ohlsson appeared at the Festival de Nohant and the prestigious la Roque d’ Antheron Festival in France; the Ruhr Festival in Essen, Germany; the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico; and in the U.S., at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, the Bellingham (Washington) Beethoven Festival, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Tanglewood in Massachusetts, and Cleveland’s Blossom Festival.

Last year, Ohlsson launched “Franz Liszt and the Art of the Piano,” presented as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers. He was heard at Alice Tully Hall in three recitals devoted to the music of Liszt and those composers who most influenced Liszt (Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert). Also as part of the Great Performers series, Ohlsson was featured in a workshop on Liszt with piano authority David Dubal at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre. The New York Times lauded Ohlsson’s first installment of the Liszt series: “It is hard to imagine a piano program in which Liszt’s B minor Sonata, at least if played well, does not dominate everything else. Much of the same can be said of Bach’s “Goldberg” variations. As one solution, you might try playing them together, if you had the necessary technical ease and stamina. Few pianists do. Garrick Ohlsson does. . . . He showed a similar rare command in the sonata, making the sprawling work seem, if not easy, everywhere in control. Yet his playing was fully expressive, that cumulative layering of controlled power turning grandiosity to grandeur.”

Ohlsson has recorded for the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, Bridge, BMG, Delos, Hanssler, Nonesuch, Telarc, and Virgin Classics labels. His recordings include the complete solo works of Chopin, Beethoven sonatas, Haydn’s three “London” sonatas, the Debussy Etudes, Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1, and the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2.

Ohlsson was born in White Plains, N.Y., where he began his piano studies at the age of eight. He attended the Westchester Conservatory of Music, and at 13 entered The Juilliard School in New York City. In high school, Ohlsson demonstrated an extraordinary aptitude for mathematics and languages, but the concert stage remained his career objective. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhevinne, and Irma Wolpe.

Although he won First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and 1968 Montreal Piano Competition, it was his 1970 triumph at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he won the Gold Medal, that brought him worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Since that time, he has made nearly a dozen tours of Poland, where to this day he remains virtually a national hero. Ohlsson was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, Mich. He makes his home in San Francisco.

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