Pianist Alexander Tutunov will premiere a new solo recital featuring Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms and Gershwin online this Saturday evening. (photo courtesy Port Angeles Symphony)

Pianist Alexander Tutunov will premiere a new solo recital featuring Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms and Gershwin online this Saturday evening. (photo courtesy Port Angeles Symphony)

Encore: Pianist presents virtual concert Saturday

Tutunov plays pieces known to Port Angeles Symphony fans

PORT ANGELES — When this pianist starts to play, he opens his heart.

“It’s my existence, you know. I do it for people – not for myself,” said Alexander Tutunov, the soloist presenting a recital for Port Angeles Symphony fans this Saturday.

From his home in Talent, Ore., a place still recovering from last summer’s wildfires, Tutunov offers a program highlighting encores, many of which he’s played live with the full Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra in recent seasons.

The 90-minute performance will premiere at 7 p.m. Saturday via portangelessymphony.org, and as with the Symphony’s other recitals in recent months, it’s free to the public. Donations are welcome to the nonprofit orchestra, which is heading into its 89th season this fall with live concerts planned.

Information and technical guidance for Tutunov’s piano recital – and other recorded performances still accessible on the symphony website — are available by phone at 360-457-5579 and email at [email protected]

“People often remarked on his choices of encore pieces,” said Jonathan Pasternack, the Symphony’s music director and conductor who invited Tutunov to give this spring recital.

“He has a natural affinity for the lyrical in music,” Pasternack said, adding Tutunov shows his virtuosity in the works capping the program: Rodion Shchedrin’s “Basso Ostinato” and Nikolai Medtner’s “Canzona Serenata.”

“I was thrilled,” when asked to do this virtual event, said Tutunov, who has come to Port Angeles at least six times, first to perform with the late conductor Nico Snel in the 1990s.

For this recital, Tutunov learned Robert Schumann’s Romance in F-sharp major, a favorite of Pasternack’s. It comes after the three opening works: a prelude by J.S. Bach and two of Johannes Brahms’s most famous intermezzos.

Tutunov fills out his performance with music by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Glinka and Gershwin and, from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” ballet score, “Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell.”

“It feels like a love letter to our community; a musical love letter,” Pasternack said.

Tutunov is known to his friends as Sasha, a Russian diminutive of Alexander. Born in Belarus and educated at Moscow’s Central School of Music and the Belarusian State Conservatory, he has won the Belarusian and Russian national piano competitions. Since immigrating to the United States, he has taught and performed across the country, from the University of Alaska in Juneau to Southern Oregon State University near his home.

“One of the extraordinary things about this,” said Pasternack, “is that he recorded it all in one take. His choices of music come from a set of pieces that are very close to his heart. So he really communicates the spirit of the music,” while expressing a deep sense of humility.

Tutunov, for his part, said he’s grateful to connect with music lovers on the North Olympic Peninsula, even if it’s via virtual performance.

“Port Angeles is one of my favorite places on Earth,” he said.

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Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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