Hao Zi Yoh Italian tour for the Keyboard Trust.The refined elegance and sensibility of a great artist

Hao Zi Yoh Italian tour for the Keyboard Trust.The refined elegance and sensibility of a great artist

Hao Z

i Yoh on her Italian tour for the Keyboard Trust played in Venice,Padua and Florence :Mozart Sonata K.533/494 ;Schumann Kinderszenen op 15 ;Ravel ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ from Miroirs;Chopin Ballade n.4 op 52.

A longer programme in Vicenza was with the addition of Schumann Novelette op.21 n.8 and Ravel ‘Noctuelles ‘and ‘Alborada del grazioso’ from Miroirs.Her encore was Chopin ‘s ‘Minute’ Waltz op 64 n.1.It was indeed her refined elegance and supreme artistry that summed up in only a minute her pure beautiful music making and had given her the ovation she truly deserved.

Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 15 in F major K. 533/494 (finished 3 January 1788)is in three movements :Allegro – Andante – Rondo: Allegretto.The Rondo was originally a stand-alone piece composed by Mozart in 1786 (Rondo No. 2, K. 494 ).In 1788, Mozart wrote the first two movements of K. 533 and incorporated a revised version of K. 494 as the finale, having lengthened it in order to provide a more substantial counterpart to the other two movements.There was clarity and a disarming simplicity to Hao Zi’s playing with crystal clear articulation and a rhythmic drive that was spellbinding from the first notes.Great elegance in the beautifully shaped Andante was played with an aristocratic sense of style.There was drama too but always within the confines of the overall shape of the movement that unlike Beethoven was just a passing cloud until returning to the serenity of the opening melodic line.The cascading arpeggios replying one to the other at the end were played with a refined delicacy that was absolutely ravishing.The purity of sound and child like simplicity gave such charm to her playing of the rondo.The ever more vivacious ornamentation just added to the rhythmic impetus with her sparkling jewel box full of kaleidoscopic colours.A coda deep in the bass in such reflective mood as the rondo theme just dissolved before our eyes with the magic that Hao Zi had recreated.

The beautiful Palazzo Albrizzi Capello in the centre of Venice
A full house and a happy return to Palazzo Zacco-Armeni the seat of the Circolo Unificato dell’Esercito
Elia and Elisabeta Modenese of Agimus Padova who organise every year the young people’s concerts in Padua and Venice

Schumann wrote 30 movements for Kinderszenen- Scenes from childhood but chose 13 for the final version. The unused movements were later published in Bunte Blatter- coloured leaves op 99, and Albumblatter Op. 124. Schumann told his wife Clara that the “thirty small, droll things”, most of them less than a page in length, were inspired by her comment that he sometimes seemed “like a child”. He described them in 1840 as “more cheerful, gentler, more melodic” than his earlier works.It was just this sense of character that came across so vividly with the same inflections and slight pauses that Curzon and Cortot brought to these seemingly simple pieces.The beautiful fluid sounds ‘Of foreign lands and people’with the melodic line shaped so eloquently with a magical sense of balance.The playful rhythmic lilt she gave ‘A curious story’ led so well to the hell for leather fun of ‘Blind man’s bluff’ .Could one ever resist such a ‘Pleading child ‘that made him ‘Happy enough’to sing such a joyous song on his way to a truly ‘Important event’.Played with such grandeur and precision never allowing the tone to harden.’Dreaming’ with such magical sounds and subtle phrasing shaped with infinite love and care.Ready for the duet between the voices ‘At the fireside’ before jumping onto a ‘Hobby horse’ of such rhythmic energy.It was ‘Almost too serious’ for her delicate projection of the melodic line helped by the rich bass notes .Her delicacy and precision was beautiful as it was ‘Frightening’ and the ‘Child falling asleep’ must have been an angel indeed as it shone out like a diamond amongst these jewels.The final chords of ‘A poet speaks’ was a lesson in how to persuade us that the piano was not a percussive instrument. Alfred Cortot could explain better than anyone

With Maria Antonietta Sguelia the indefatigable organiser of the Incontri who with her daughter Raffaella have given a platform to Keyboard Trust Artists for the past twenty years.

The Novelletten, op 21, is a set of eight pieces written by Schumann in 1838 and is dedicated to Adolf von Henselt.February 1838 was a period of great struggle for Schumann who originally intended the eight pieces to be performed together as a group, though they are often performed separately.The concluding piece of the set that Hao Zi played is actually two pieces in one. The first part is a passionate etude in 2/4, the second has the nature of a march ending in D major, the principal key of the cycle.There was a romantic outpouring of sumptuous beauty with some pungent harmonies within the alternating legato and staccato.She brought such clarity as she pin pointed the melodic line in the first episode made up of the dotted rhythms that Schumann was so fond of.She brought an equally infectious rhythmic drive to the second where the gradual diminuendo created a magical base on which floated one of Schumann’s most heavenly melodies.Nobility and passion marked the final episode of the best known of these eight novelettes.It was the one together with the fourth that I have never forgotten from the hands of Sviatoslav Richter on one of his first visits to London in the 70’s.If Hao Zi did not quite have the animal like rampage of Richter she made up for it with her sumptuous sounds and an architectural shape that makes one wonder why it is not more often played these days.

Teatro Comunale Ridotto in Vicenza
The indomitable Maria Antonietta Sguelia promoting music in Vicenza at the Teatro Comunale and the historic Teatro Olimpico for a lifetime

Miroirs has five movements, each dedicated to a member of Les Apaches.Around 1900, Maurice Ravel joined a group of innovative young artists, poets, critics, and musicians referred to as Les Apaches or “hooligans”, a term coined by Ricardo Vines to refer to his band of “artistic outcasts”.To pay tribute to his fellow artists, Ravel began composing Miroirsin 1904 and finished it the following year

Ermanno Detto sponsor and friend of Incontri with the concert dedicated each year to his late mother and also this year with great sadness to his father.

“Noctuelles” (“Night Moths”). D♭ major. Dedicated to Léon-Paul Fargue and is a highly chromatic work, maintaining a dark, nocturnal mood throughout. The middle section is calm with rich, chordal melodies, and the recapitulation takes place a fifth below the first entry.”Une barque sur l’océan” (in English “A Boat on the Ocean”). F♯minor. Written for Paul Sordes , the piece recounts a boat as it sails upon the waves of the ocean. Arpeggiated sections and sweeping melodies imitate the flow of ocean currents. It is the longest piece of the set.Alborada del gracioso” (Spanish: “The Jester’s Aubade -Morning Song of the Jester”). D minor — D major. Dedicated to Michel -Dimitri Calvocoressi Alborada is a technically challenging piece that incorporates Spanish musical themes into its complicated melodies.There was a fluidity of sound together with the fleeting lightness of Noctuelles.A deeply brooding atmospheric middle section with a completely different sound colour from the Schumann that one could only describe as unmistakably French.These moths flittered around the keyboard with kaleidoscopic colours that just seemed to flow so naturally from Hao Zi’s hands.The final flourish as they disappeared into the night air was of quite ravishing beauty.One could almost see the waves splashing about in ‘Une barque’with an astonishing fluidity out of which emerged a gentle melody that gradually became ever more turbulent.Storm clouds of mysterious sounds were played with astonishing technical prowess with streams of wonderful sounds just cascading from her fingers with such ease.What beauty she brought to the left hand melodic line as the waves weaved their delicate way in the right hand and calm was restored as rays of sunlight seemed to appear between the clouds with such subtle radiance.The Alborada showed off Hao Zi’s technical mastery as the repeated notes and double glissandi were simply incorporated into a musical tone poem of such languid beauty mixed with a passionate frenzy of astonishing virtuosity.

The Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52 by Frederic Chopin completed in 1842 in Paris It is commonly considered one of Chopin’s masterpieces, and one of the masterpieces of 19th-century piano music.Of the four ballades, it is considered by many pianists to be the most difficult, both technically and musically.It is also the longest, taking around ten to twelve minutes to perform. According to John Ogdon , it is “the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin’s compositions… It is unbelievable that it lasts only twelve minutes, for it contains the experience of a lifetime.

A room with a view in the beautiful Harold Acton Library home of the British Institute directed by Simon Gammell OBE who together with his wife Jennifer have created a centre for excellence and an essential meeting place for all lovers of the Arts
Manuscript of Chopin op 52 in the Bodleian Library in Oxford

This was a monumental performance of one of the greatest works in the piano repertoire.It was played with an aristocratic nobility but a sensitivity to sound that made one realise what Cortot meant when he said:’ avec un sentiment de regret’ at the return of the opening heartbeating repeated notes.A magical cadenza brought us to the main theme seemingly lost until it found its way with such swirling mists of sound and a gradual magisterial build up to the final explosion and the five redeeming chords that seem to find such peace after such a storm of romantic passion. The transcendentally intricate coda that follows was indeed breathtaking in Hao Zi’s hands.It was played with an unrelenting forward propulsion that did not exclude the most intricate shaping of this extraordinary after thought of pure genius.

A standing ovation in the Harold Acton Library with a full house of discerning music lovers
Director Simon Gammell already on his feet at the end of a superb recital
A sumptuous celebratory feast hosted by a very enthusiastic Sir David Scholey
Sir David looking forward to the next Keyboard Trust concerts in The British Institute where two Gold Medal winners of the Busoni International Piano Competition will give concerts on the 2nd and 30th March Ivan Krpan on the 2nd and Emanuil Ivanov on the 30th.
I truly mean what I write here: click on the link for an hour’s unforgettable music, wherever you are. Performance doesn’t come better than this.
Nice to remember Jack Buckley who died last September in London at the age of 84 – A life lived to the full right until the last – he will be much missed.For a lifetime he promoted music in Italy and was a great friend of Harold Acton.He was an indefatigable promoter of Sir William Walton and Sir Maxwell Davis bringing to Rome the London Symphony Orchestra under Andre Previn with an all Walton programme.He also helped Lady Walton found the William Walton Trust on Ischia and helped Joy Bryers found the European Youth Orchestra.He was Arts officer of the British Council in Rome for many years having followed in the footsteps of the remarkable Hilda Colucci.In later years he became a very erudite commentator on the Arts via Seen and Heard International.
Jack Buckley with another great female pianist Beatrice Rana

I have heard Hao Zi many times as these articles will show and some include performances and a biography of this remarkable young musician :

Red roses from the sponsors of her concert in Florence :Mr and Mrs Carpenter

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