Alexander Tutunov has performed in Juneau at least once per year for 17 years, but Friday’s performance at the JACC will be a first.
Tutunov, professor of piano and artist in residence at Southern Oregon University, will play selections Jan. 18 at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center he has not previously performed in Juneau.
“There’s a longstanding love affair between Juneau and me,” Tutunov said. “I would come up with different excuses to come to Juneau. Whether it was with the symphony, or for seven years I came as an instructor for UAS, then it was a summer piano excursion. You can’t keep me away from Juneau.”
The ongoing piano series began in October with a recital by series organizer Jon Hays, focuses on spotlighting piano music in general and specifically featuring music that isn’t often heard. It featured a performance by Nic Temple in November and took a holiday break in December before resuming this month.
“It’s amazing that Juneau embraced another artistic endeavor,” Tutunov, who lives in Ashland, Oregon, said. “That’s why I love Juneau.”
The educational aspect of the series is why Tutunov selected the pieces he will play.
While Schubert and Liszt may be well-known to some, Tutunov said they’re maybe a tier below Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, where public recognition is concerned.
“Even though they’re definitely mainstream heavy-hitters, they are not like the A-list, they are like the B-list, so that’s the educational component, ” Tutunov said. “They’re both very, very good musicians.”
Tutunov, a first-prize winner of the Belarusian National Piano Competition and winner of the Russian National Piano Competition, said he picked pieces that are connected by the two composers’ relationship.
“I don’t think they ever met, but Liszt was fascinated by the music of Schubert,” Tutunov said. “Liszt transcribed a lot of Schubert’s music trying to make it more popular.”
They also share an era and style. Both are Romantic Period sonatas.
“Both pieces are extremely meaningful for each of the composers. One was written in the three-day period when Schubert was diagnosed with syphilis, which was a death sentence. He just poured this out, and it was deep, beautiful, brooding and it’s not often played,” Tutunov said. “Everything that Liszt was about, his creative credo so to speak, is in that sonata piece. It feels like one minute and a lifetime too. If you were to hear one piano piece by either composer, it would be these.”
In his time, Liszt was known for being an especially compelling and unprecedented showman.
“He was the Liberace of the time, he was the first one to come up with the idea that things should be played by heart from memory,” Tutunov said. “He was just a monster figure both in spirit and the brainpower. When people jokingly say, ‘Who would you like to spend three hours with from music?’ You know, I would probably go with Liszt.”
While the official program for the Piano Series recital only includes pieces by Schubert and Liszt, Tutunov said there is an off-program flourish is in the works.
“We are preparing a little surprise,” Tutunov said.
Know & Go
What: Juneau Piano Series Recital: Alexander Tutunov
When: 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18
Where: Juneau Arts & Culture Center, 350 Whittier St.
Admission: Tickets are available at the JACC or online through JAHC.org. Admission is $20 for adults, or $5 for students and seniors.
Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com.