Reviews

Jian Liu International pianist

John E Joyce


The Mulled Wine Concert, 29 June 2014

This was a further concert in the Matariki Mulled Wine series presented by entrepreneur Mary Gow.
Jian Liu - solo pianist, chamber musician, educator, currently Lecturer in piano at the NZ School of Music, gave a superb performance before a rapt sell-out Kapiti Coast audience.

His programme selection was certainly eclectic, ranging from Bach to Farquhar. His successful interpretation of the various composers showed a deep understanding and study of the requirements that made the music come alive and meaningful.

He opened with Fantasia in d Minor which was completed in 1808 by Muller. The programme notes said it well –"It was a piece filled with unexpected changes to tempo, texture, harmony, articulation and mood, a challenge to any pianist." Liu handled it very professionally but I felt he was playing the Schimmel Grand , possibly for the first time and spent his opening moments taming it.

Variations in F Major, Op 34 by Beethoven came next. As Jian Liu says, "each Variation starts in a new key , creating a unique sense of whirlwind for the ear and mind." Liu got to grips with this opus and made great use of dynamics and super fast chromatic runs- breathtaking.

A very interesting change came next as Liu tackled New Zealander David Farquhar's work "Black, White and Coloured". Farquhar's selection included examples of one hand playing on the white keys and the other on black keys - a strange combination which seemed to work. He also had Homages to Chopin, Mahler, Schubert and George Gershwin., the latter included an all out attack on Strike Up the Band played very robustly by Jian.

After the interval we heard " Images Book 1" by Debussy. Somebody once said that when interpreting Debussy's quieter works, you had to imagine a fine silk handkerchief, thrown into the air and then to watch it float gracefully to the ground. Jian caught this mood very well in "Reflections in the Water", one of the finer examples of musical impressionism.

Bach's Chaconne was originally written for solo violin . It has fascinated composers and arrangers for decades, a simple four-bar ground bass over which the genius of Bach weaved his magic –extreme simplicity and complexity. Jian played the piano transcription by Busoni.
It ranged from quiet reflection to brooding soul-searching, then to robust , "faster than the ear could travel" chromatic runs and chordal attacks which took no prisoners.. It was a fitting end to the advertised progamme. As an encore we heard Farquaher's Sonatina This was a superb concert presented by an International star – a musician who has more than served his dues. We are indeed lucky to have musicians of the standing of Jian Liu living and performing among us and teaching his skills to us. Long may it be so.

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