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Get ready for Freddy – the return of the piano phenomenon

In 2015 it was packed houses, standing ovations, and critical acclaim when British pianist-extraordinaire Freddy Kempf toured with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Next week he returns to play and conduct a special programme in Napier, Auckland, Hamilton, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington celebrating some of the most beloved piano works of all time.

 “I love playing for the audience. It just gives me that extra motivation to really give everything,” says Kempf, who conducts and performs with many of the world’s top orchestras.

Pianomania features six works spanning a momentous 300 years of piano history from George Frideric Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frédéric Chopin, Felix Mendelssohn, Sergei Rachmaninov and George Gershwin.

Kempf , praised for his “exquisite artistry” and “athletic approach to conducting” when he last toured New Zealand, knows the six works continue to resonate with audiences. Gershwin’s majestic Rhapsody in Blue is synonymous with the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 30s, while the second movement of Rachmaninov’s achingly romantic Piano Concerto No. 2 is the basis for Eric Carmen’s 1976 pop hit All by Myself.

The concerts include Handel’s Concerto for Keyboard, which provides an intimacy between orchestra and soloist; the miraculous second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, Mendelssohn’s charming and adroit Piano Concerto No. 1 and Chopin’s sparkling and melodic Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante.

For those new to classical music concerts, Pianomania is a great introduction, combining the world-class prowess of the NZSO with Kempf’s virtuosity and charisma.

Pianomania is Kempf’s fifth tour with the NZSO in the past 10 years and his second where he also conducts. In 2015 Kempf played and conducted five Beethoven piano concerti with the NZSO, which had critics declaring him “a phenomenal pianist”.

Kempf, 39, made his concert debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at age eight. In 1998 he was awarded a third prize at the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow and was proclaimed by the Russian press as “the hero of the competition”.

This year his performances included a 12-date concert tour of the UK with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra where he was praised as “a pianist in a million”.

HAMILTON | Claudelands Arena| Saturday 16 September| 7.30pm


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