Thursday, 25 June 2009

Young Virtuoso Recital: Yao Xiao Yun (China / Singapore)

Sunday, 28 June 2009, 3 pm
Victoria Concert Hall

YAO XIAO YUN (China/Singapore)

BACH-HESS Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring
SCRIABIN Sonata No.5, Op.53
CHOPIN Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23
CHOPIN Ballade No.4 in F minor, Op.54

My thoughts on selecting Yao Xiao Yun to perform at this year's Young Virtuoso Recital @ Singapore International Piano Festival 2009:

“The international jury at the 2005 National Piano Competition had been raving about the playing of a “little Chinese girl” and I had to hear her for myself. It was in Chopin’s Third Sonata and Scriabin’s Fifth Sonata where a combination of stunning digital dexterity and poetic prowess by the diminutive Yao Xiao Yun that left me breathless with excitement. Even Lang Lang’s pyrotechnics were to pale in comparison. She deservingly won the First Prize. Then a student of Professor Yu Chun Yee at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, she now teaches at that august institution and has become a Singapore citizen.”
Xiao Yun practising at the NAFA School of Young Talents
she is a teacher nurturing Singapore's finest young musicians.
Yao Xiao Yun provides her personal thoughts on her programme:

BACH-HESS Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring

This short masterpiece is one of my personal favourites. It is the title of the 10th movement from Bach’s cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147. Dame Myra Hess was deeply impressed by this music, and had it transcribed and published. Over the years, it has become one of the most familiar Bach transcriptions, winning the affection of pianists and listeners across the globe. I chose it as my opening piece, transporting one and all into a world of peace where there is no conflict or competition. Its every note conveys beautiful colours and the warmth of human emotions.

LEONG YOON PIN 23 Settings of Yibazhima

Every technique from the Baroque to Schoenberg’s duodecaphony may be found in the variations of this fairly brief work by Singapore’s most venerated composer (left). The music paints a lively scenario, with an unspoken emotional strength as a unique characteristic. The overall structure, melody and harmonies make this a representative work in the canon of Singaporean piano music.

SCRIABIN Sonata No.5, Op.53

This work was written in 1907, marking the end of the Russian composer’s middle compositional period and a transition into his later atonal style. The music is highly dissonant, despite nominally being written in the key of F sharp major. Sometimes known as The Poem of Ecstasy (not to be mistaken with Scriabin’s orchestral work Poeme de l’Extase), the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter described it as the most difficult work in the entire piano repertoire. This work is of a particular challenge to me because of the small size of my hands. The outrageous speeds and intense strength required were also my key adversaries in overcoming its challenges. I chose this work to display the mysterious trends and phenomenal advances that took place in the late stages of Romantic period.

CHOPIN Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23
Ballade No.4 in F Minor, Op.52

By playing two Ballades, his first and last, I wanted to reflect the distinctive styles of the young and mature Chopin. Ballade No.1 was written in the years 1831-35, and widely considered his first major creation. Chopin loved it above all, showcasing great emotions and unleashing a freedom of musical display that characterised his youth. The work begins on a sentimental note but gradually turns tragic, his feelings of sorrow reflecting the adversities of his native Poland. Ballade No.4 was composed in 1842, one of his most intense and technically demanding works, requiring virtuosity and exceptional pianistic skills. Audiences will warm up to Chopin’s maturity of style, which open a window into his innermost feelings. In this music, the listener can taste the angst and passion of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It this were to be Chopin’s only composition for piano, he would still be hailed a genius.
Notes by Yao Xiao Yun

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