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August 7, 2020

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Shanghai maestro’s tribute to Beethoven

Award-winning Shanghai pianist Zhang Haochen is performing Beethoven’s complete piano concertos at the Shanghai Grand Theater this weekend.

Programs on Saturday consist of Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15; Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 and Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. The Sunday programs feature Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58 and Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73.

“To perform the complete concertos within two days is a challenge to stamina and concentration,” said the 30-year-old pianist. “Classical music lovers are generally more familiar with Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 and No. 5, so the two pieces are usually scheduled on different performing days for box office concern. But we are making an exception this time, performing the five concertos in order.”

Zhang said Piano Concerto No. 4 was the first Beethoven work he ever learned.

“I know this piece best because it has accompanied me for a long time,” he said. “My understanding toward each concerto changes with time during my growth.

“Concerto No. 1 has a kind of vigorous power, while in Concerto No. 3, you can sense some bitterness and sarcasm of a mid-age crisis.”

Zhang was a gold medalist and first prize winner of the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, becoming one of the youngest winners in the competition’s history. He received a 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant in recognition of his talents.

The musician will be playing with the Shanghai Opera House Orchestra under the baton of its director and conductor Xu Zhong. This is the first time Zhang and conductor Xu join hands in a performance.

“To perform Beethoven’s complete concertos is also a challenge for the orchestra, as the orchestra appears more often in opera performances rather than concerts,” said Xu. “But we will do our best.”

The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. A series of Beethoven-themed concerts by international troupes got canceled or delayed due the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. So this is a perfect opportunity for Zhang to perform the German master’s unique work.

Date: August 7-8, 7:30pm

Tickets: 160-880 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater

Address: 300 People’s Ave


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