Since he put down roots here in 1967 as a member of the University at Buffalo's music faculty, some of the most memorable piano recitals in town have come from the fingers of Stephen Manes - better, even, than many performances by touring superstars of the keyboard.
One of Manes' earliest recitals in the old Baird Hall (now Allen Hall) on the UB South Campus found him playing Books 1 and 2 of Brahms' "Variations on a Theme by Paganini," deemed by piano pedagogues and Brahms scholars as the most technically difficult of the composer's piano works, but "brilliantly effective" and "a compendium of his idiomatic pianoforte characteristics." Manes' performance of the "Paganini Variations" was spellbinding, and put Buffalo music lovers on notice that whenever Manes plays Brahms, it's worth going out of your way to hear.
Manes will be in the new Baird Hall on UB's North Campus at 8 p.m. Saturday with an all-Brahms program on the Faculty Recital Series. He will open with the Eight Piano Pieces, Op. 76 (four Capriccios and four Intermezzos, works of lightness and glittering exuberance), then will go on to the "Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel," considered one of the greatest examples of the variation form. Manes will conclude with the five-movement Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5. Written when Brahms was just 19, it contains a slow movement of ravishing romantic beauty.