Fort Worth — One of the greatest joys of playing an instrument is performing a concerto with a symphony orchestra. It is also a very rare occurrence for all but the top of the profession. So, one of the many things that the PianoTexas Festival offers to exceptional students and talented armatures is an appearance with the Fort Worth Symphony.
Six students were selected to play the full concerto and the amateurs, including those on the piano-teacher track, each played a movement of their selected concerto. This review covers the first three students.
All of the pianists demonstrated secure technique and a professional approach to playing. All had their own thoughts about the piece they were playing, agree or not, and a noticeably (and welcome) minimal use of the sustaining pedal resulting in clarity of the textures. Hopefully, this is a trend. As a result, these common attributes can be assumed and will not be repeated.
The first young artist to play was Xuesha Hu. The Chinese pianist already has a well full of prizes and she is only 22. She is a student of Támas Ungár, professor at TCU and Artistic Director of PianoTexas. He was not a judge over who was selected and the reason for her choice became immediately apparent once she started Beethoven’s first piano concerto (Op. 15).
She took a very individualistic approach; looking forward to Beethoven’s later proto-romantic style while still keeping his Mozart and Haydn roots in mind. She delivered a fully formed, unique and mature interpretation.
Yun Lu followed with the showy Liszt first piano concerto. Born in Taiwan, she is currently studying with Ning An at Lee University in Chattanooga, Tenn. She captured Liszt’s style, almost impossible to exaggerate, and took full advantage of the fireworks. She has a forceful attack when needed and an impressive legato. She seemed to have some fun in the last movement, playing off the unexpected appearance of the triangle.
Last up was the Taiwanese-American pianist (and violinist) playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 26. She has the steely hands the concerto requires and gave an impressive performance of the wickedly difficult last movement. However, to these ears, she missed the sarcasm and touch of bitterness that permeates Prokofiev’s music, but at only 21, such later-in-life emotions can hardly be expected.
« To read about the other three student performances, go here.