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Summer turns up for winner’s Fairlight recital

Having followed closely Tzu-Yin Huang’s progress through the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition to take the winner’s crown in March, David Pullen was keen to hear her again when she gave the traditional winner’s recital in the striking setting of Fairlight Hall earlier this month. Photos by Richard Grebby of RG Studios.

Well, given our summer this year, who would have reckoned with the weather being so perfect for this semi-open air recital by the HIPCC winner Tzu-Yin Huang? I just hope some of you did make the effort and go, because it was not an experience to deliberately miss.

And what a setting Fairlight Hall is on such a perfect day! So we could sit in the gardens looking down the fields, across to Camber sands and the coastline to Dungeness, having our picnics before going into the coachyard where David and Sarah Kowitz have discreetly built a covered area which opens out down one side, so that most people sat outside to listen: but I elected to get close to the piano under the roof.

recital 3Tzu-Yin is a very relaxed and confident performer who was happy to introduce the pieces she played starting with a late Haydn sonata which had plenty of life and clarity, but was for me lacking a bit of the poise and serenity that always underlies this composer’s music. Then came a real audience pleaser, Balakirev’s magical elaboration on Glinka’s song The Lark, a regular showpiece for pianists over the last century and a half. Fortunately we were able to hear Miss Huang’s rendition twice as she made it her encore at the end of the recital.

The three Ginastera dances that followed lacked the full flavour of their South American origins, particularly the Beautiful Maiden‘s tango smokiness; but after a relaxed intermission which I used to walk round the huge walled kitchen garden we had a contrasting second half. First a classic piano sonata by Mozart, followed by the quite challenging Out of Doors suite by Bartok.

It was brave and testing of Tzu-Yin Huang to present such a varied programme. She has plenty of technique to tackle any problems, and a real understanding of the different periods and cultural undertows that lie at the base of these pieces, but for me she seemed to underplay the fantasy and stillness that the music had to offer. I remember she said in February, during the competition, that she loved playing with other musicians and perhaps she is more fully herself, and more able to project and explore, if she is doing it with others.

Maybe it is just me, but I felt that Tsu-Yin Huang would have been more impressive if she had been playing with other musicians – an orchestra, chamber group or whatever. It was lovely playing, but somehow restrained, not in power but in imagination.

Still. that is just how it seemed to me, and I’m sure everyone who went had a marvellous time. How lucky we are to have a sponsor whose generosity has drawn such talented players to Hastings, where they can entertain us in such a lavish and uplifting setting.

 

See also Chance to see piano champion’s recital

Posted 20:13 Monday, Jul 11, 2016 In: Music & Sound

Also in: Music & Sound

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