Bicentennial Celebration Concert for Chopin and Schumann 11/9/10

November 9, 2010

It was a beautiful fall day to play a noontime concert at Occidental College. The night before, we had a rain and we woke up with a fresh air and blue sky. Perfect! The theme of the concert was 2 Bicentennial composers, Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) and Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Occidental College has a cozy performance venue, Bird Studio, and it has a gorgeous acoustic with SoCal atmosphere, a semi open to the outside space.

I started with Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 (1842). This is a monumental piece even among Chopin’s accomplished works. This piece is one of my favorite Chopin’s works among with Scherzo No. 4, Fantasy in F Minor, Sonata No. 3, Barcarolle and many. Ballade No. 4 requires a refined technique and musicality. I have performed it for several times, and each time gives me a new challenge and joy.

After Chopin, 4 wonderful music friends from LA Phil, Robert Gupta and Johnny Lee on violin, John Hayhurst on viola, and David Garrett on cello, joined me to play a celebrated Schumann’s Piano Quintet (1842). We had a fantastic time rehearsing and performing. Chamber music is so fun and they are wonderful musicians to play with. Bravo to my colleagues! This piece carries some interesting anecdotes. When Robert Schumann set a run through performance at friend’s house, Clara Schumann got sick in the last minute. She was a pianist for the quintet. They searched a substitute pianist, and Mendelssohn stepped in and sight read the piece at the performance. After the performance, Mendelssohn suggested a few changes to Robert Schumann. One of them is to replace the trio sections in Scherzo movement. This quintet is a team work by Schumann and Mendelssohn!

My next project is J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I have been meaning to learn this monumental work for many years. I have to know Goldberg Variations before I die. Of course I am not planning to die soon. I imagine to play it in my head while I am going to cross to the other side of the world.

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