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Music

Pianist Buchbinder is up to the challenge — 3 concertos in 1 concert

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder
©PHILIPP HORAK
Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder

Performing three concertos in one concert seems like a challenging task, but pianist Rudolf Buchbinder says it is not as daunting as a recital.

“In a recital, you don't have an orchestra to give you a break,” he says.

The Austrian soloist will offer his three-for-one evening with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra April 28 at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh.

It is a continuation of symphony music director Manfred Honeck's two-weekend look at the music of Vienna.

Buchbinder will perform Franz Josef Haydn's Concerto in D Major, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Concerto No. 20 and Ludwig van Beethoven's Concerto No. 5, better known as the “Emperor.”

The Viennese-themed concerts, which began the weekend of April 21 with an appearance by pianist Till Fellner, will continue with Honeck leading performances of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 on April 29 at St. Vincent Basilica, Unity and April 30 at Heinz Hall.

Wrapping up the three Viennese concerts posed a challenge, Honeck says, but he feels comfortable leading the orchestra in what he calls “a monumental” piece.

“In looking at the later period, we could do (Gustav) Mahler, we could do (Arnold) Schoenberg,” he says. “But this Bruckner is a most important Romantic piece”

The power of the piece, which premiered in 1892, is notable as it moves from a gloomy third movement to a finale that is Bruckner at his happiest — if that term is ever correct for this composer.

Honeck also is pleased to have Buchbinder on the program for the April 28 show featuring three composers whose music is distinctly Viennese even if none of them was born in the city.

“It is another aspect of this music week,” he says. “It is wonderful to have Rudolf Buchbinder with us celebrating this music.”

Buchbinder is using the performance of these three concertos as a way of celebrating his 70th birthday, which is Dec. 1. He says he often tries to find performances such as this as a way of commemorating a year.

He also says he is comfortable taking on weighty musical challenges such as this performance of three concertos. For instance, he says, he once did all 32 of Beethoven's sonatas over seven days in Shanghai.

And he recorded on CD and DVD the two concertos of Johannes Brahms in a live performance with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Buchbinder, who has been playing since he was 5, was the youngest student ever to be admitted to the Vienna Musik Hochschule.

He has toured and performed the world over and recorded more than 100 albums, including a cycle of all the Mozart concertos.

Performances that seem challenging don't seem to faze him. He insists it is simply playing music.

“I can move immediately from the mind of one composer to that of another in any concert,” he says.

Bob Karlovits is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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