Monday, April 23, 2012

Byron Janis - A Pianist With a Story Like No Other...

For those connected to the world of great music, professionally or otherwise, the name Byron Janis is recognized and conjures illimitable admiration. I would recommend to those of you who are not familiar with this astounding pianist to look into his career.
Janis stands as one of a handful of American pianists who have achieved rank of the highest level.
He demonstrated enough talent in his teens to receive an invitation from Vladimir Horowitz to study with him, which Janis did for about three years, and is one of only three students publicly acknowledged by Horowitz.
A career followed with great success, and for a period Janis was considered one of the young lions of the piano.
Sadly, tragedy became a companion; first of all, as a youth, he injured one of his pinky fingers permanently, with a loss of feeling in the joint nearest the tip, as I recall. Undeterred, Janis found ways of defeating this impairment and continued his brilliant career.
But tragedy once again visited. Janis was felled by a form of arthritis which caused such pain that what could have given the world of music one of the giants of the 20th century did not come into reality. He is now, and has been, an active champion in the fight against this most pervasive of
diseases, and continues to contribute great values to the world of music; for example, his documentary on Chopin is a positive delight and should be seen/heard by those of you who love Chopin's contribution to arts history.
As for recordings by Janis, there are several, many of which equal, in my view, any performance I know of in works of Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Chopin. The sweep of stylistic color created in his playing of the 1st and 3rd concertos by Rachmaninoff is , for me, as compelling as any reading I know of these works; or, listen to his playing of the 3rd concerto of Prokofiev.
I, for one, can understand why Horowitz took him on as a student upon hearing him just once at a Janis concert.
Hear for yourself - you will be astounded.



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