7 October - Chun Wang - pianist (China)


Chopin`s 24 Etudes (studies), Op. 10 and Op. 25, are among the most challenging pieces in the entire piano literature. As their title implies, they are very difficult to play, but they are also works of art, covering a wide range of moods and emotions and always adorned with Chopin`s gift for lyrical melody.

It was therefore quite a bold decision for Chun Wang, an 18-year-old pianist from China to include the twelve studies of Op. 25 in his recital for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

The result was interesting and beguiling and in many way impressive. Chun Wang has the technical abilities to handle these virtuoso pieces. Bespectacled and of medium build, he looks a little older than his 18 years, he has a calm and unflamboyant demeanour at the keyboard and he was obviously in firm control throughout.

Nevertheless I felt that his emphasis was on the technical rather than the poetic quality of these works. His tone was sometimes rather hard, but in this respect I felt he might have been hindered by the limitations of the piano at his disposal. The big, extroverted items came off best, for example No. 11, the so-called `winter wind` etude and No. 12, with its sweeping rapid arpeggios.

A neatly shaped Mozart sonata, K. 333 in B flat, opened the programme, and after the interval the pianist produced more virtuoso fireworks with Ravel and Liszt.

An unusually large audience gave the pianist a warm reception and deservedly so. He is a player of great accomplishment and even greater promise, and no doubt he will go far in the wide world of international music-making.

--- Michael Green (courtesy of artSMart)