This year’s Berkeley Festival Main Stage will be rich in debuts by notable artists and ensembles from around the US and abroad. A special treat will be the first West Coast performances by the distinguished fortepianist and harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout. Just 34 years old, Bezuidenhout already has earned an international reputation as a performer and recording artist, having worked with many of the most acclaimed figures in the early music movement, both in Europe and America.
For anyone who loves Mozart or Bach, or who doubts the beauty, expressive power, or historical significance of the fortepiano, Bezuidenhout’s concerts promise to be a revelation, as they have been to audiences around the world. A London Times reviewer called him “… a prince of the fortepiano, making it sing in melodic phrases as no other practitioner of this intractable instrument has done in my experience.” The New York Times described his 2009 Boston Early Music Festival appearances as “the most magical performances of the festival” and named him that festival’s M.V.P. (‘Most Valued Player’). Amsterdam’s De Telegraaf called him “Mozart Reincarnated.”
He will appear in two Festival Main Stage concerts, the first on Thursday, June 5, a solo recital of works by Mozart and others for fortepiano; the second on Saturday, June 7, as guest artist with the Philharmonia Chamber Players, in a program of Bach Family Keyboard Concerti, where he will be featured soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Harpsichord No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052; and the Concerto for Two Harpsichords No. 3 in C minor, BWV 1062, with Nicholas McGegan, harpsichord and director.
The Viennese fortepiano, the instrument on which Bezuidenhout will perform on June 5, is still relatively unfamiliar to early music audiences. Regrettably, it too often is written off as an unsatisfactory transitional instrument between the harpsichord and the modern pianoforte, “neither fish nor fowl.” In fact, the fortepiano is a subtle, complex, and expressive instrument, for which Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert wrote some of their most beautiful music. In the following video clip, Bezuidenhout explains and demonstrates some of the unique virtues of this remarkable instrument.
As a major interpreter of Mozart, Bezuidenhout also offers fascinating insights into the composer’s keyboard music. Here he discusses how we should interpret the scores of Mozart’s piano concertos.