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5.13.19 Graduating Student Recital: Elegance and Absence: Mengyu Fu, piano
Monday • May 13, 2019 | 4:30 pm
This program, “Elegance and Absence,” explores themes of connection and absence, elegance and longing. Romantic character pieces compliment and contrast each other; dialogues of influence emerge between composers and between compositions. The program begins with early works by Scriabin, a waltz and prelude, that show the influence of Chopin yet hint at Scriabin’s future development. These are followed by three Chopin Mazurkas, written while Chopin was in Paris, and which combine the elegance of his musical style with a longing for his absent homeland, Poland. Then comes a Mazurka by the Romanian composer Enescu, looking back to Chopin, yet looking ahead also. Mozart’s Sonata in B flat, K 570, perhaps the epitome of his piano sonata writing, combines a natural elegance with a poignancy of loss. The second half expands the concert’s themes by coupling a Barcarolle by Fauré with Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant defunte. The subtlety of Fauré’s writing is answered by the sophisticated simplicity and evocations of the past in Ravel’s popular piece. Finally a selection of Bagatelles by Bartok lead to the conclusion of the program, Liszt’s “Funerailles.” Several of the Bartok bagatelles performed tonight are based on folk melodies, echoing the use of folk influence in Chopin and Enescu. Yet Bartok’s more astringent harmonic language is derived from Liszt and reflects Bartok’s own personal vision. Liszt’s “Funerailles” commemorates the failed uprising for Hungarian independence in the year 1849. The funereal tone reflects the political defeat, yet moments of power, including the famous octave section in the middle, revive the dream of Hungarian nationalism. It brings the program to a powerful yet ambivalent conclusion.