Birge's Picks

The 88s in ‘22

Minnesota looks to have a great year for piano fans. Luisella Planeta Leoni/Pixabay

January 04, 2022

It looks like 2022 is shaping up to be a great year for piano fans. This first week of the new year offers a bounty worth celebrating:

  • Maurizio Pollini’s 80th birthday is January 5. Has there ever been a more crystalline fusillade then his recording of the Chopin Etude in C? Pure genius!

  • Vladimir Feltsman’s 70th birthday is January 8. A pianist with the patience of Job, in 1979 he applied for an exit visa from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union responded by banning Feltsman from performing in public. After enduring eight years of that, he was finally granted permission to emigrate to the US. First stop: the White House. Second stop: Carnegie Hall. You could hear a pin drop.

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Kate Middleton, turns 40 on January 9. What you might not know about her is that she plays piano, and she did so publicly for the first time on Christmas Eve

Also, 2022 is a banner year for great pianists visiting Minnesota. The Schubert Club brings “the Icelandic Glenn Gould” ,Vikingur Olafsson, to St. Paul for a mostly Mozart recital on January 9. Then on January 11 he plays Philip Glass and other moderns for a Schubert Club Mix concert. In the months to come, look for live performances by some of the greatest pianists in the world: Isata Kanneh-Mason, Rafal Blechacz, and Stewart Goodyear in St. Paul; Alessio Bax in La Crosse; and Marc-Andre Hamelin inaugurates a rare new Fazioli grand piano in Austin. While he’s there, will he be able to resist the Spam Museum?