On January 21st, the NCPA Piano Virtuosos 2018 kicked off with a recital given by piano master Philippe Entremont. After the concert, the NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) held a press conference on the afternoon of the 22nd, while Entremont stood in attendance.
The press conference of the NCPA Piano Virtuosos 2018
The NCPA initiated the Piano Virtuosos series in 2011. In the past seven years, the musical event has been attended by over 70 pianists from all over the world.
In 2018, 16 international pianists come to hold 18 well-planned concerts. Four piano masters over 70 years of age—Philippe Entremont, Murray Perahia, Maurizio Pollini and András Schiff—will give their solo concerts. Simon Trpčeski, Vladimir Feltsman, Peter Rösel and Ivo Pogorelich will demonstrate the charms of middle-generation pianists. Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov, Chinese-American pianist master Hung-Kuan Chen and British pianist Paul Lewis will perform with skills unique to different genres. Gerhard Oppitz, Leon Fleisher, YIN Chengzong and CHEN Sa will perform some composers’works. Addtionally, the legendary pianist Christian Blackshaw will return to the NCPA stage to perform the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas.
The year 2018 is the centennial of Debussy’s death and the 190th anniversary of Schubert’s death. In honour of the two great composers, the Piano Virtuosos is planned with their compositions at the core. In the opening concert, Entremont performed Debussy and Schubert. Hung-Kuan Chen will perform Schubert’s swan song—three sonatas. CHEN Sa is going to round off the Series, performing Debussy’s works, including two books of image and 12 etudes in his later years. Perahia, Rösel, Oppitz, YIN Chengzong and the Fleisher Couple will also perform masterpieces by Debussy and Schubert.
Apart from the two composers’ works, every pianist has distinctive pieces in his or her repertoire. Lubimov will perform a prepared piano piece composed by John Cage, to open a dialogue between the traditional and the avant-garde. The performance of Mozart’s works has been a controversial issue, but Blackshaw’s appearance marks the return of the "eternal perfectionist" (Gramophone), especially on Mozart. This time, he will perform Mozart’s Sonatas for three days at the Multi-functional Theatre, to show Beijing audiences an “authoritative” version of Mozart. The Fleisher couple will perform piano duets composed by Brahms and Schubert, to demonstrate how the two pianists in four hands play harmonic notes with virtuosity on 88 keys.
LUO Chang shares her thoughts about the Piano Virtuosos with the press
The Piano Virtuosos series has been held for seven years consecutively, drawing attention from an increasing number of music lovers, of whom several “die-hard fans” were present at the press conference. LUO Chang, a professor from Faculty of Law, Beihang University, shared with reporters how she enjoyed music, “The first classical music I heard is Massenet’s Meditation, which sounds beautiful. At first, I bought lots of classic music magazines, later bought CDs, and even later, when I was better-off, I started watching live performances in concert halls. From reading music to listening to music, I’ve had my aesthetic judgment continuously improved, and classical music has purified me bit by bit. Of the performances at NCPA, the Piano Virtuosos series is one of my favourite ones, because piano music enables me to hear a tight logic and profound philosophical thought. After watching so many piano performances, I’ve begun to learn the piano, and hope to get some professional knowledge so that I could better enjoy piano music. For me, every performance is sacred.”
Philippe Entremont and CHEN Sitong, a 11-year-old NCPA member
It is worth mentioning that the Piano Virtuosos series contains a “Piano+” Programm, by which the NCPA organizes not only wonderful performances on the stage, but also events such as Master Class, to provide piano lovers with a platform to interact with one another and get closer to maestros. 11-year-old NCPA member CHEN Sitong started learning the piano when she was a little girl, and has attended many piano concerts. Last year she attended the Lang Lang Master Class at the “Piano+” Programm. Coming on the NCPA stage is her dream.
Photos by XIAO Yi