The stage at Temple University’s recital hall was well lit on Friday evening in anticipation of performances by prodigious pianists, Xuelin Wang and Janette Qian. Music enthusiasts, aficionados and students were awaiting eagerly the annual studio recitals. On stage, sitting side by side were Xuelin Wang and Janette Qian; only a distant away from a grand piano. Information from the program notes had it that Qian would go first, something I had been looking forward to. Both were virtuoso pianists who were known internationally but I was always curious about Qiana’s technique. They were also able to scoop individual prestigious awards from various competitions that they would compete in. My main focus during this concert was to get a front row seat to observe these two pianists and subsequently compare their piano music.
Janette Qian took to the stage first, sat calmly in front of the grand piano; gently placing her fingers on the ivory keys. After a quick intermission, Qian began with her loud playing of Sonata No.2(Opus 19). In comparison to Shubert’s sonatas full of whimsical characters, this piece’s sound is somber and full of agitation. These two characteristics of the piece were instrumental in revealing Qian’s musical depth that was capable of touching the listener’s hearts. One of her techniques was to let a melodic line that is melancholic melt away to dream-like fantasies. Qian was able to depict her fingers virtuosity that was awe inspiring, to say the least. Her assortment of dynamics throughout the piece, was also worth noticing. There was the intentional production of soft notes , delicate enough to soften the hearts of the listeners and at times she would play loudly and powerfully prompting members of the audience to jump onto their feet in adoration.
Next on stage was Xuelin Wang, ready to play another Scriabian work, Twelve Etudes (Opus 8).Etudes were music composition from France that were meant to train the technique of the pianist. I was looking forward for to this performer was intentionally challenging herself to reveal her complex technique to an expert ear. During this performance, Wang was responsible for breathing life into the seven etudes that he was to play. As a result of her prowess in playing, she was able to transform these “practice pieces” into works of art that were simply unforgettable. In the second etude, there was a perfect display of cross-rhythms that exists between the two hands. The fourth etude was responsible for relaxing the audience by means of fluid arpeggios; only to later jolt them back to life with rapid and furious octaves. Her fingers would jump across the whole keyboard range which made sound like four hands were playing.
As soon as the last cadence led the concert to a close, a standing ovation was in order. The audience was on their feet and a member of the organizing committee was responsible for presenting a bouquet of flowers to them. The applause would continue as a sign of gratitude for their perfect execution in their varying piano playing techniques.