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Andre Watts bringing his legendary virtuosity back to the BPO

Piano legend Andre Watts embraces big music and radiates strength. He was last in Buffalo in 2011 for a solo piano recital, and the chords are still echoing, such a number did Watts do on the Liszt B Minor Piano Sonata.

“Watts approached it as if going into battle,” The News reported. “Even before he played those smoky low opening octaves, you could sense he was in the zone. He scowled out over the piano, eyes far away. All you could think was that he was seeing what Liszt had been seeing.”

What else could you expect from a pianist whose mother was Hungarian and whose father was an American GI? Watts, who grew up a child prodigy, made a surprise, splashy debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic when he was 16. In his ‘60s, he is as exciting as ever. But he is also gracious, introspective and approachable.

Once, The News asked him what he was proudest of. He thought. “I’m sure we can find people who will disagree,” he finally replied, “but I think I’m proudest of not turning into a big jerk because I’m a big success.”

At 8 p.m. Feb. 21 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in Kleinhans Music Hall, Watts will be joining the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for a high-wattage concerto, Beethoven’s Fourth. In addition, BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will conduct Samuel Barber’s Overture to “The School For Scandal” and Bartok’s Concerto For Orchestra.

Tickets are $49.50-$105.50. Call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

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