Welcome from Festival Artistic Director Marios Papadopoulos

1 - 9 August 2020

Piano Festival Piano Festival Brochure 2020

Last year in this introduction, I wrote about the apparently endless, universal capabilities of the piano – the instrument’s status as both a solo orator and a congenial conversationalist, a vessel for self-absorbed introspection and unbounded, triumphant communication. 

Perhaps those qualities are connected more with the musician seated on the piano stool than with the mechanics of the instrument itself. It is pianists – even more than pianos – that wow us with their poetry and passion. And a constant stream of talented pianists emerging from all corners of the world continues to captivate audiences and inspire future players.

At this, the 22nd Oxford Piano Festival, we have plenty such pianists joining us, as well as returning guests and distinguished associates. We welcome pianists from all corners of the world – from Brazil, Russia, the United States, Canada and Europe – to play repertoire spanning three centuries. 

It is a particular joy to see alumni of the Festival return for a special concert on 2 August. Between them, these bright young pianists will traverse five of Beethoven’s most varied sonatas as a prelude to Paul Lewis’s performance of two titled sonatas and the Diabelli Variations later that evening – a fitting way to mark 250 years since the birth of the composer who transformed the piano sonata. 

As well as young talent, we have some highly distinguished guests at this year’s festival. Nelson Freire, one the finest Brahms players alive, makes his Festival debut in a performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, which it is my privilege and pleasure to conduct. Elisabeth Leonskaja, a towering pianist and prolific recording artist, also makes her Festival debut in the opening concert on 1 August. A champion of unusual and contemporary repertoire, Alain Lefèvre also joins us for the first time.

I am particularly proud that the Festival has a habit of cultivating long-term friendships. We look forward to seeing old friends Nikolai Lugansky and Richard Goode, while our masterclass series will include Vanessa Latarche, Yoheved Kaplinsky and Menahem Pressler. To be so strongly associated with a pianist of Menahem’s standing, who is Lifetime President of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, is testament to the ambitions of all concerned. Join all of us this August, as we once again celebrate the piano in all its diversity and brilliance.

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