It was a delight to welcome an audience of friends, parents, staff and local supporters to a very special recital on the last Sunday of term, 26 June. This was the brainchild of Form 7 pianist and composer Alan Liu, whose love of Romantic music informed the entire recital, including collaborations with four of his musical friends.
Alan’s interest in the music of Wagner was evident in the opening two pieces, as he chose to perform both the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde in transcriptions for solo piano. This is no small undertaking, and Alan is to be congratulated on his highly musical and well-voiced playing of these expressive works on the piano. He was joined by Lucy Collison to play two much-loved works by Kreisler for violin and piano – the encore favourites Liebesleid and Liebesfreud.
After another operatic transcription for solo piano (the famous Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavelleria Rusticana), the programme focussed on song for a sequence of three pieces. Zsolti Johnson joined Alan for the beautiful Schubert Lied, Du bist die Ruh, and Eliza Cohen Gregory & Pien van der Wal were the lyrical duet partners in Delibes’ famous duet from Lakmé, the ‘Flower Duet’. Inbetween, the vocal lyricism moved to the piano as Alan performed Lizst’s Drei Liebesträume, which transform music that was originally sung onto the keyboard. Alan responded very well to this challenge, particularly as Liszt exploits many different accompaniment textures and regularly passes the melody between the hands.
Alan’s passion for Romantic music also informed the final two works in the programme, though these were world premières of two of his own compositions! His Sonatensatz is an extraordinarily well-crafted sonata-form movement in the Romantic style (composed for his Pre-U coursework), and it was evident how much Alan himself appreciated the opportunity to sit back and hear this virtuoso piece performed for the first time by music teachers Rebecca Leyton-Smith and Peter Davis. He returned to the piano for the final work – Liebesehnsucht – which offered an outpouring of chromaticism and emotional thematic writing, sustained to the final bars of the work’s new concert ending.
Massive congratulations to all the performers in this remarkable recital, and particularly to Alan for his extraordinary musical achievements. These five Form 7 musicians were proud to raise £185 to support the humanitarian and relief effort in Ukraine.
A recording of the concert can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/oakhammusiclive