Review on Piano Performance Recital by Studio of William Fried & Cynthia Lawing
At the early stage of the concert, Chopin’s Nocturne in B-flat Minor, Op.9, No.1 was performed by Gabriel Hansen. In the beginning of the piece, the monophony texture (thought only for a small while) played at allegro tempo with high pitch created a sense of serenity and quickly brought me into the sentiment of a quiet night. Actually, it is more than “night” that the beginning brought, what is more essential about the melody, from my perspective, is a sense of detachment from the everyday, physical world. It is as if in a cold, autumn night, I am philosophizing alone on the balcony of my home under the starry sky.
Later, as the main melody repeats, gradually there came some accompaniment and their pitches grew lower. In this way, the detachment also fades away. Instead, the piece seems to present positive expectations on the world that people reside in. Putting it in the lively scenario in the last paragraph, it would be “I walk back into my home and embrace its warmth with an optimistic mind.
However, at late night, thoughts tend to be fleeting, so are the optimistic ones. As the melody decreases in pitch and dynamics (for some time it should be pianissimo), the positive expectations on the real world got blurry, and then the melody in the beginning came back. The piece ends as the dynamics of the melody decreases.
What pleasantly surprised me during the concert was what came after the nocturne, Chopin’s Prelude in D Minor, Op.28, No.24, performed by Olivia Ng. Before this piece was performed, the concert was in a tranquil atmosphere, and my mind was also quite relaxed. Suddenly, there comes a piece performed at vivace tempo with pretty much embellished melody, so it immediately grabs my attention. This is also the reason why I feel it stands out from other pieces – it is a more enthusiastic piece in midst of the more reflective pieces.
Contrasting Chopin’s Prelude in D Minor and Chopin’s nocturne performed in the concert, the biggest difference between the two lies in the emotion that each invokes. The prelude gives the audience a sense of enthusiasm, while the nocturne brings the audience to a variety of mood, but mostly detachment from the world. Such difference is caused by the difference in the pitches and tempo of the two pieces. By having a strong presence of an accompaniment playing at vivace tempo with low pitch for almost the entire piece, the prelude sounds much warmer than the nocturne, which begins and ends with melody at allegro tempo with high pitches. The contrast of dynamics adds more to the difference: the high dynamics used in most of the prelude is more grabbing than the low dynamics in the nocturne. All of the factors stated above contributes to the difference between emotion conveyed by the prelude and the nocturne.