They're on all the time and all over the place. It's not a new phenomenon. Older readers will recall when Brian McMaster, former director of the Edinburgh International Festival, had a long-running effective residency for Andras Schiff, who appeared in every slot from morning concerts to late night recitals.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has a piano festival every year. Glasgow Concert Halls is never far from the front line of piano action, and has just rolled out a festival for November which will feature some distinguished names including Angela Hewitt and the Labeque sisters. Glasgow has also signed up the astonishing Llyr Williams to re-run his cycle of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas over a three-year period, in tandem with the Elias String Quartet playing all of Beethoven's String Quartets.
Perth Concert Hall has been associated with festival-type series of piano events since its early days. Indeed, Williams played the complete Beethoven Sonatas there just a few years ago. And Perth has also featured an extended residency from Paul Lewis playing all of Schubert's mature piano music. And it is Perth which is introducing a new venture next season, beginning on October 6.
It's called Perth Piano Sundays, and will feature a series of six solo recitals by international artists between October and June next year. They will take place on Sunday afternoons at 3pm and will be full concerts, running at about two hours. The first thing to do about this, before any details, is to declare an interest: I know a fair bit about the series as I have been asked to introduce each of the concerts - just a few minutes; no lectures, promise.
The second thing to say about the mini-festival of piano music is that there's more to it than the six solo concerts I've already mentioned. James Waters, director of the classical music programme at Perth, was keen to bring to the Fair City the renowned piano-duet/two-piano team of Simon Crawford-Phillips and Philip Moore, not just for a one-off flying visit, but for a series of three concerts. So he has integrated two of these into the Perth Piano Sundays series, and added the other (an evening concert) into the flow of the Perth concert programme. So, re-doing the sums, the new piano series will feature nine concerts, eight of them on Sunday afternoons.
So who are we getting? A stellar array of names, that's who. The series will be launched on October 6 with an all-Beethoven programme given by Steven Osborne. Osborne is big-time international, but already has close links with Perth. He also selected the Perth Hall piano, upon which so many international pianists have heaped praise. He'll feature two of the major sonatas, the Waldstein and the transcendent last sonata, the opus 111, and the big sonatas will be prefaced by two sets of the composer's wonderful little Bagatelles.
The first duet programme on October 30 includes Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, arranged for four hands by the great man himself (okay; who knew that?) and Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. Benjamin Grosvenor arrives in November with a breathtakingly wide programme that includes music by Mendelssohn, Schubert and Ravel.
In February, American Richard Goode brings Schubert, Chopin and Book One of Debussy's Preludes. In March it's that Llyr Williams man again, with Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin. April is the fantastic Alasdair Beatson playing Bartok, Janacek, Beethoven opus 101 and Schumann's Carnaval. May is a monster two-piano concert including Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and The Rite Of Spring, while the unbelievable Russian Denis Kozhukhin closes the series in June with Brahms's First Sonata and some spectacular Liszt.
This is just an outline. It's a blazing, panoramic survey of piano music. Full details at www.horsecross.co.uk.