I have to confess that I had not originally planned to attend Thursday afternoon's piano recital at Paul Hall. As temperatures climbed to record breaking levels, however, I decided nothing would be better than listening to great music at an air conditioned venue.
The pianists at Thursday's recital were all member of Juilliard's class of 2017. I've seen pretty much all of them in performance at one time or another over the past few seasons and greatly admire their talent. At this recital it seemed each had deliberately chosen for a farewell performance the most challenging works he or she could find. The recital lasted almost two hours, so there was sufficient oppurtunity to appreicate the fine playing of each musician.
The full program was as follows:
- Schumann - Fantasie in C major, Op. 17, I. Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen, performed by Sarina Zhang
- Brahms - Klavierstucke, Op. 117, Intermezzo in A minor and Intermezzo in A major, performed by Yandi Chen
- Beethoven - Sonata in D major, Op. 10, No. 3, I. Presto, performed by Mathew Maimone
- Chopin - Three Mazurkas, Op. 59, performed by Randy Ryan
- Schubert - Sonata in C minor, D. 958, II. Adagio, performed by Jae Young Kim
- Adès - Darknesse Visible (inspired by John Dowland's 1610 song In Darknesse Let Mee Dwell), performed by Gabrielle Chou
- Chopin - Barcarolle, Op. 60, performed by Akari Mizumoto
- Ligeti - Étude No. 13, L'escalier du diable ("The Devil's Staircase"), performed by Joey Chang
- Kapustin - Piano Variations, Op. 41, performed by Tristan Teo
- Liszt - Funérailles from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S. 173, performed by Mackenzie Melemed
- Moszkowski - Valse Brillante, Op. 88 arranged for eight hands, performed by Joey Chang, Akari Mizumoto, Gabrielle Chou and Sarina Zhang
The two works I most enjoyed hearing were Ligeti's Étude and Moszkowski's Valse. The former was one of eighteen composed by Ligeti in his final years (he had intended to write even more but was unable to finish the series due to declining health) and are now considered to be among his greatest achievements. I'd first come to appreciate the composer after having heard his famous opera Le grand macabre and began searching out performances of his other works. Originally inspired by his fellow Hungarian Bartók with whom he shared a deep interest in his Balkan folk music, Ligeti grew increasingly eclectic after having fled his homeland following the 1956 Revolution and once arrived in Cologne began to experiment with advanced techniques taken from a variety of sources. For example, in discussing his first book of Études, Ligeti gave as his inspiration both piano music from the Romantic era as well as ethnic sub-Saharan music characterized by pounding rhythms. Certainly, the Étude No. 13 played at this recital contained strong percussive elements. It was also a virtuoso showpiece that was here given a bravura performance by Joey Chang.
Moszkowski's Valse Brillante was a scintillating work. The arrangement for eight hands performed at this recital allowed the proceedings to end on an upbeat note and also provided a musical image of the strong feeling of comradeship shared among the graduating pianists.