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Winner Tzu-Yn Huang in the White Rock Theatre, scene of her triumph.

Winner Tzu-Yn Huang in the White Rock Theatre, scene of her triumph earlier this year.

Chance to see piano champion’s recital

As the last act of this year’s Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, Tzu-Yin Huang from Taiwan is to give the traditional winner’s recital at Fairlight Hall. David Pullen, who accompanied the competition with a lively daily blog for HOT, looks forward to the occasion and the programme. Photos by Richard Grebby of RG Studios.

In or out – it’s so difficult to choose, even after practicing at the referendum!

Because if the weather is fine on July 3rd, we’ll all be wanting to pitch up at Fairlight Hall with our picnics by lunchtime, so that we can sit and enjoy the fabulous setting and views before going in for the recital by this year’s worthy winner of the Hastings Iinternational Piano Concerto Competition, Tzu-Yin Huang. And this time it really is a varied programme, which will show off her delicacy as well as her power and energy. She showed plenty of that when she played Prokofiev at the White Rock Theatre in February.

The first thing to say about her programme is that it’s nicely varied: the five pieces may well all be new to you. But don’t let that put you off, because none overstays its welcome, and I am sure you’ll be surprised how full of character and joie de vivre they are. You could be whistling some of the tunes by the end.

Tzu-Yin Huang starts with the very last of Haydn’s 52 piano sonatas. It was written in 1794 some years after he had first met and tried to teach the young Beethoven – who had bristled at the suggestion that he should put “pupil of Haydn” on his early published works. Yet it would not be hard to think that this adventurous work was by the pupil and not the master!

Tzu-Yin Huang cropped 2By the 1790s Haydn, entering his sixties, was indeed the Master, with literally hundreds of works written, published, performed, copied and admired. He does seem to have been that rare thing – a truly great and original artist who was generous and friendly to his potential rivals, considerate to the singers and musicians who performed for him, and able to both get on with and extract big fees from the aristocracy, the impresarios and the publishers who were always pressing him for compositions. So unlike his poor contemporary and much loved colleague Mozart, or his demanding and surly pupil Beethoven, both of them with famously unpredictable ‘artistic’ temperaments – but not so Haydn.

However serious, you can always sense the warmth and good nature in his music. This work was actually written in London in 1794 for a celebrated pianist, Therese Jensen, who was able to treat it as her own performing piece for six years up to its publication in 1800. By then Beethoven had already published 10 sonatas, so this was a sort of final wave from Haydn, as he watched Beethoven overhaul him. Interestingly, it is really only in the last few years that Haydn’s piano sonatas (particularly these late ones) have been placed and played beside the canon of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas which have dominated piano recitals for nearly two centuries. It truly is a masterly crafted and imaginative work from the pen of one of the most under-rated composers.

After that comes something completely different (as they say) – a wonderful transcription for piano alone of a very popular song, The Lark by Glinka, the ‘father’ of Russian music, by his pupil Balakariev, threading the soaring line of the song through a filigree of delicate fingerwork. Magic.

This is followed by a piece from a century later by a great Latin American 20th century composer, Alberto Ginastera – Argentinian Dance (or should that be Dances? – there are three of them, and they only take up five minutes of your time between them). The middle one, Dance of the Beautiful Maiden, is a slow tango. How strange that just a few weeks ago Helen Rideout played them during a concert at the Kino in St Leonards! I thought they were great novelties then – and now I can hope to hear them again played perhaps quite differently by Tzu-Yin Huang.

Then the really important bit – the moment you were waiting for – Pimms and/or tea in the interval. Who needs (or can afford) Glynebourne? You don’t get pampered there like this for £20.

And so to Mozart. Although written just 10 years before the Haydn sonata we heard first, this one, K332, has more of the formality of the 18th century, interrupted by stormy interjections. You can more easily imagine it played on a fortepiano than the Haydn. But then there are lots of those distinctive Mozart singing lines that seem to capture a lost world of elegance and poise.

Finally, before you go outside for more sun and refreshments, here is an almost playful Bartok to describe Out of Doors in Hungary 90 years ago. These five pieces were written after hearing Stravinsky play some of his recent compositions, which, Bartok said, “showed that only by using the piano as a percussion instrument can it be really expressive!”

Is that a warning? In a way, but what he could and did express in them is the wild, jerky energy of the rustic music he had heard played on simple instruments – bells, drums, bagpipes, etc. This is contrasted in the fourth of the pieces with his now famous Nightmusic – evoking the sound of frogs and crickets in an impenetrable, dark stillness. This is probably the most taxing piece for the audience – and Tzu-Yin Huang as well – packing a lot into its 15 minutes An exuberant finale to a very original recital, full of contrasts. Who knows, there may also be an encore from Tzu-Yin Huang. It all depends on how much energy you put into the clapping. See you there, I hope.

Tzu-Yin Huang 3

See also A clear winner

Posted 17:02 Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 In: Music & Sound

Also in: Music & Sound

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