MusicFest Vancouver's piano series spans the romantic and frantic

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      The city’s strong contingent of piano fans will be able to experience the many moods of the instrument at Christ Church Cathedral during MusicFest Vancouver.

      “This year, the music is all classical, but it’s a progression throughout musical history—from [Johann Sebastian] Bach through to romantic music and then to [György] Ligeti,” says acting program director Annie Saumier of the Piano Afternoons Series. “It’s for people who want to hear the whole array of musical colours.”

      First up is Seattle-based artist Craig Sheppard, the veteran in this three-part program, saluting the festival theme of Germany with Bach’s Partitas, as well as Prelude and Fugue in G Major on Tuesday (August 4) at 2 p.m. Sheppard established his career in the U.K., where the American lived for 20 years, playing BBC radio and TV gigs, appearing with the major orchestras there, and giving master classes at the likes of Oxford and Cambridge universities. In the last decade or so in Seattle, he’s played regularly at the opera house and Benaroya Hall, as well as touring Asia.

      At the same time of day on August 12, emerging local star Sergei Saratovsky, a doctoral candidate studying under Jane Coop at UBC, interprets Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in D Major, Op. 28 and Carnaval, Op. 9. The Russian Canadian pianist has played around the globe, attracting accolades for his emotional expressivity.

      Rounding out the series with an hourlong marathon of finger-punishing Ligeti (you’ll recognize some of it from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut) is New York–based Canadian Lucille Chung. Belgium’s Le Soir has praised Chung’s “elegance”, but this concert is also a physical feat. “A whole hour of Ligeti is about the most you can do,” Saumier says. “It demands so much stamina.” In other words, on August 14, Chung will be not so much tickling as tackling the ivories.