Austrian pianist Till Fellner likes to mix in some of the music of today alongside works of the past. “I’ve always been fascinated by contemporary music,” he said. “And when I say contemporary music, I really mean contemporary music and not music that’s maybe written today but sounds like it was written 100 years ago. I really love avant-garde music and new music, and I find it really exciting and challenging, first to all to listen to it and to play it.” The other big appeal of such music is that it allows him to know and work with the composers who wrote it, something that simply isn’t possible for most composers of the standard piano repertoire.

When he returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for concerts Jan. 25, 27 and 30 under fellow Austrian Manfred Honeck, however, Fellner will be performing a work from the Classical-era rep: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25. “I love playing Mozart,” Fellner said. “I never tire of performing his music.”