Pianist-composer Michael Brown performs music of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Copland and one of his own compositions at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road., Corrales. The concert is part of the Music in Corrales series.
By David Steinberg
Michael Brown says his Saturday, Jan. 11 piano recital program in Corrales explores some of his favorite pieces to play by four composers – Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Ravel, and Aaron Copland.
The program opens with Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses, which Brown describes in an email as “a revelatory work written to raise money for a statue of Beethoven in Bonn.”
That’s followed by Brown’s own composition, “Surfaces,” which premiered in 2016. It was inspired by four paintings by his friend Roman Rabinovich, an artist and pianist.
Because 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Brown is performing his famous Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Opus 27, No. 2, commonly known as the “Moonlight” Sonata.
The second half of the program begins with Ravel’s “Miroirs,” which Brown said is “one of the most inventive, evocative and large-scale contributions to the piano repertoire.
“Each of the five movements in the Ravel is a feast for the imagination. Inspired by different natural elements (e.g. night moths, sad birds), each movement takes the listener on a different journey through the exotic and the sublime.”
The program closes with Leonard Bernstein’s arrangement for solo piano of Copland’s symphonic work “El Salón Mexico.” Brown explains that the work is “directly influenced by his visit to Mexico City, and it is full of charm, dance, virtuosity, and a boisterous spirit.” Specifically, Copland was influenced by the different music styles he heard in a popular Mexico City nightclub with three separate dance halls.
The New York Times has described Brown as “a young piano visionary.”
Brown won the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center, the 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Competition. He has soloed with the Seattle Symphony and the National Philharmonic, given recitals at Carnegie Hall and the Mostly Mozart Festival, and has appeared at numerous festivals, including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Ravinia and Music@Menlo.
Brown received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in piano and composition from The Juilliard School.