Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Taiwanese Pianist Rueibin Chen Hands Masterful Performance at The Wallis

 Review :  

Taiwanese Pianist Rueibin Chen Hands Masterful Performance at The Wallis



Classical music is seen by many as a white European art form and its audience made up of mostly older fans. Symphony halls and other venues offering this type of music are trying their best to see how to pull in a younger and more diverse audience.
There is one ethnic group though that not only attends these concerts in large numbers but has produced many of today’s most important classical music artists and whose presence in symphony orchestra musicians may be the highest. Asian and Asian-Americans comprise the youngest demographic group attending classical concerts and many of the hot classical performers are coming from this community.
These artists include Chinese pianists Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, cellist Yo Yo Ma (French born of Chinese parents) amongst others.
One of Taiwan’s best pianists, Rueibin Chen performed two sold-out nights at The Bram Goldsmith Theater at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on Thursday and Friday evening.
A Chinese-Austrian born in Taiwan, Chen has a reputation for a brilliant technique and intense artistic expression as well as an expertise on the works of Russian composer, conductor and master pianist Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, whose date of death in this city of Beverly Hills coincided with Friday’s performance.
Chen’s selected program titled “Total Rachmaninoff” began with three of Rachmaninoff Preludes, which were written for solo piano. “Prelude in G Major Opus 32 No. 5″ began with a soft, rain-like sound with multiple layers, followed by “Prelude in D Major Opus 23 No. 4,” which had a fuller and stronger sound showcasing Chen’s virtuosity. A more lyrical and melodic piece was “Prelude in D Major Opus 23 No. 4,” which was the longest of the three.
The “Three Nocturne Opus I” (1887), a premier for California, is regarded as the first serious attempt by the composer to write for the piano at all 14-years of age. These included “No.1 in F-sharp Minor,” “No. 2 in F Major” and “No. 3 in C Minor.” The pieces vary in tone and speed from a slow, soft, gentle sound to a full one with increase speed and complexity that Chen was able to transmit with great artistry and command.
“Lilacs Opus 21 No.” was a beautiful, contemplative melody with a more modern feel while the following piece, “Gavotte from Partita No. 3 in E Major,” was a baroque number by Johan Sebastian Bach; it was originally for lute and was transcribed by Rachmaninoff for piano. In “Etude-Tableau in D Major Opus 39,” Chen showcased a very animated, virtuoso technique in fast pace that increased with complexity as time went on.
After the intermission, the audience was treated to several other transcribed pieces for piano by Rachmaninoff such as “Lullaby” by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and “Minuet from L’Arlesienne” by French composer Gerge Bizet. These were followed by two intense pieces by Austrian-born violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler, a contemporary of Rachmaninoff whose “Liebesleid” (Love’s Sorrow) and “Liebesfreud” (Love’s Joy) were packed with layers of complexities and so much power that Chen’s cufflinks flew off of his wrists.
After two standing ovations, Chen finally addressed the audience in his limited English thanking them for attending the concert and The Wallis for hosting him that evening. Not to disappoint he turned to the piano and gave a haunting version of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35,” popularly known as The Funeral March.
Fortunately, the evening’s selections and compositions of Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, interpreted in the power and artistry of Chen, had all in the audience “living it up.”