Kicking off Great Artists Series, Jonathan Biss recital doesn't disappoint

Jonathan Biss
St Louis Post-Dispatch

By John Huxhold

Many musical artists come to their performances with an agenda. Perhaps it is to champion an unfamiliar work; perhaps it is to expose an obscure composer to a wider audience; or maybe it is simply a nostalgic retrospective of old favorites or greatest hits.

In the case of pianist Jonathan Biss, his recital Thursday night at the 560 Music Center in University City centered on the subject of “late style.”

Biss is currently preoccupied with this question: “What effect do years of accumulated knowledge and experience, combined with, perhaps, the realization that death is near, have on artistic creation?” The program he brought with him is one exploration of that topic.

In any case, subtext or not, Biss rendered everything with a fluid, effortless technique and a remarkable ability to extract intricate details from within a tsunami of notes and harmonies. Even the loudest parts never sounded like uncontrolled, furious pounding, but they seemed to erupt with smooth power and no hint of strain from the keyboard.

His recital was the first in the Great Artists Series sponsored by the Washington University music department, and his profound performance and musical insights more than lived up to the series’

Read the full review here.