Bicentennial Celebration Concert at Occidental College 11/9/10

November 9, 2010

It was a beautiful fall day to play a noontime concert yesterday. During the night we had a rain and we woke up with fresh air and blue sky. Perfect! The theme of the concert was 2 Bicentennial composers, Chopin (1810-1849) and Shumann (1810-1856). The venue was our proud Bird Studio at Occidental College. This place has a gorgeous acoustic because of high celling and wood surroundings. And it hasSo-Cal atmosphere, semi open to outside space.

I started with Ballade No. 4 (1842) by Chopin. This is a monumental piece even among Chopin’s accomplished works. I always think that if we can play Chopin’s late works, like this piece, Scherzo No. 4, Fantasy, Sonata No. 3, Barcarolle we may be able to call ourselves “I play piano”! So this Ballade No. 4 requires a lot in technique and musicality. It is a test, but it is a fun test to explore ourselves. I suppose I have performed this piece for 7-8 times in the past, but each time it gives me a new challenge and new direction. I am sure next time I will find another journey to follow through. I enjoyed living with this piece.

After Chopin 4 wonderful 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. I often play with group of musicians, but this group became one of my favorite musicians to play with. Our rehearsals were fun, but very productive and efficient, and at the performance we were flexible and experienced enough to play music in fresh manner with great energy. Bravo to my colleagues! This piece has many interesting anecdotes. One of them is from the second run- through at the house of Shumann’s friend. Clara was supposed to play a piano part, but got sick on the day of the performance. Do you know who replaced her???? Mendelssohn! He stepped in and sight-read the piece. After the performance Mendelssohn suggested few changes to Shumann. One of them is to replace the trio sections in Scherzo movement. It is amazing to imagine those 2 big composers in the same room discussing–. Don’t you think that can be a great  reason to play this piece?

My next project is J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I have been potponing this for many many years. I have to know this piece before I die. Of course I am not planning to die soon. I imagine myself to liesten this beautiful piece in my head while I am going to the otherside of the world. I need to memorize this 70 minutes long piece (with repeats) for that moment.  I am not planning to carry my music that day!

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