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Alexander Yau was one of the HIPCC finalists in 2019 (photo: John Cole).

Standing by the pianist’s side

Last Friday the weekly online concert from Hastings International Piano during this lockdown period was given by Alexander Yau, one of the 2019 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition prizewinners. Brian Hick was watching.

One of the fascinating aspects of this series has been the range of venues from which the young players are performing. On this occasion Alexander Yau was in his music room in Sydney, having got back home from the Julliard School in New York just before the lockdown came into effect. Here the sense of intimacy was overwhelming, as we were standing right by the piano and – had he been playing from the score – we could have turned over for him.

This closeness has its slight discomforts as every little additional sound, from his finger-tips on the keyboard in longer runs to the squeak of a pedal, is magnified far more than it would be in a concert hall or larger studio. However this is inconsequential compared with the sense of involvement it gives us with the music-making.

Yau opened with Liszt’s arrangement of Schubert’s Der Muller und der Bach. This was reflectively romantic, heightened by Liszt’s warmth, but never straying too far from Schubert’s original song. Liszt came into his own with the Concert Etude No2, La Leggierezza, though even here the opening is reserved, with the occasional florid touch, then building in excitement and pace before returning to a quiet, almost sombre, conclusion.

If these two works may have been less familiar, the concluding Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 by Chopin brought us on to headily romantic ground and an extended moment of wallowing indulgence. Alexander Yau phrased this with passion and intense involvement without ever lapsing into sentimentality, leaving us wanting more. Let us hope we are able to hear him again soon live, and not in his music room.

 

See also Sylvia Jiang adds to world-class online concert series

Posted 18:04 Tuesday, May 5, 2020 In: Music & Sound

Also in: Music & Sound

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