ERIC LU

ONLINE CONCERT
Thursday, November 26, 2020 | 7:30 pm
The recital will be available for 30 days after the premiere date.

ERIC LU

Artist’s website
 
“Lu seems already to possess something of the magic tough of early Leeds laureates Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu, and is surely one of the most exciting prospects in a long time. A veritable poet of the keyboard.”-The Guardian

To say that this is an accomplished young musician would certainly be an understatement.

At 17, Lu made headlines by being a prize-winner at the 2015 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. In 2018, he went on to win the unanimous first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition. Since then, Lu has been busily fulfilling demands from all over the musical world for his performances, both as a recitalist and concerto soloist.

In a review of one of Lu’s performances, the Guardian writes, “Lu seems already to possess something of the magic touch of early Leeds laureates Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu”, and goes on to refer to this young musician as a “veritable poet of the keyboard”. In a review of Lu’s recording of Chopin’s Preludes, the prestigious Gramophone writes, “Lu explores these miniatures with the utmost poetry and sensitivity…It is how Lu fashioned the set as a single whole that is the most inspiring aspect.”

His prize-winning performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, released on Warner Classics, is simply astounding, and betrays a depth and maturity far beyond his age.

The Vancouver Chopin Society last presented Eric Lu in 2015 as a very talented young pianist. Come now and experience the mature artistry and musicianship of this young master of the piano.

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata In A major, D959

  1. Allegro
  2. Andantino
  3. Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio: Un poco più lento
  4. Rondo: Allegretto – Presto

CHOPIN: Prelude No. 4 in E minor, Op. 28
CHOPIN: Prelude No. 17 in A-flat major, Op. 28

“Lu seems already to possess something of the magic tough of early Leeds laureates Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu, and is surely one of the most exciting prospects in a long time. A veritable poet of the keyboard.”-The Guardian

“Moments of the utmost mystery nourished the soul, while elsewhere the ear was ravished by Lu’s impeccably even, crystalline trills… And how right Lu was to wait just that split second before his first retort to the strings in the central movement, a moment of purest magic.” – Seen and Heard International

It never ceases to amaze me when I ponder the sheer number of masterpieces Franz Schubert composed in that miraculous year of 1828. One immediately thinks of the “Great” C major symphony, the Miriams Siegesgesang, the collection of song aptly referred to as the “Schwanengesang”, three piano sonatas, the String Quintet in C major, as well as the great Fantasia in F minor for piano, four hands. The fever of the still young composer’s creativity was such that it was almost as if he was aware of his impending mortality.

Looking at the last three piano sonatas, I am astounded by how fecund the composer’s creativity was in that last year of his life. I imagine that he was hearing the sounds in his mind faster than he could have committed them to paper. Each sonata brings us into a vastly different sound world, from the stormy and brooding C minor sonata, to the autumnal beauty of the B-flat major sonata, to the congeniality and melodic inventiveness of the A major sonata. It is this Sonata in A major, D. 959, that Eric Lu has chosen to play for us in his online recital.

Much has been written about the composer’s use of the “cyclic device” in these late compositions, meaning that thematic material from one movement would appear in other movements of the same work. In the 1st movement of the A major sonata, the opening series of chords would appear, transformed, at the conclusion of the slow movement, as well as forming the melodic outline of the Scherzo and Trio.

In the slow movement, I am reminded of the comment that Schubert composed like a sleepwalker. Indeed, the music has the quality of a mad scene in an opera by Donizetti or Bellini. Pianist Jonathan Biss referred to this slow movement as a “composed hallucination”. Andras Schiff comments that the movement’s “modernity is incredible even today.” Alfred Brendel refers to the “desolate grace behind which madness lies.” Hearing this music, the vast contrast between the lyricism of the opening and the savage intensity of the middle section is immediately apparent.

While these final works of Schubert represent a summation, I often have a feeling that there is so much more the composer could have offered us. On Schubert’s tombstone, the poet Grillparzer wrote the somewhat controversial phrase, “Here the art of music has entombed a rich treasure, but even fairer hopes.” Are we being selfish in wanting more from Schubert? Perhaps. But we could only hope, couldn’t we?

Eric Lu concludes his recital for us with two of Chopin’s Preludes, Op. 28 – the Prelude in E minor (No. 4) and the Prelude in A-flat major (No. 17). Although often performed as a complete cycle, Chopin’s Twenty-Four Preludes are equally affecting when performed as individual works. In his book, “Chopin – The Man and His Music” by the colourful and highly original writer James Huneker, the author entitled his chapter on the Preludes as “Moods in Miniature”.

Although composed as absolute music, pianists Hans von Bulow and Alfred Cortot could not resist the temptation of attaching descriptive titles to each prelude. Of the E minor prelude, Cortot gives it the title “About a grave” while Bulow describes it as “Suffocation”. For the A-flat major prelude, Cortot attaches the phrase, “She told me, ‘I love you’, and Bulow gives it the even more descriptive, “Scene on the Place de Notre-Dame de Paris.”

For Maurycy Karasowski, the somber E minor prelude is a “real gem, and alone would immortalize the name of Chopin as a poet.” In Huneker’s words, this prelude “is like some canvas by Rembrandt, Rembrandt who first dramatized the shadow in which a single motif is powerfully handled”. The challenge for any pianist playing this work is to, within the 25 measures of the work, build the music to its shattering climax. In contrast, the A-flat major prelude is one of euphoniousness and tranquility, where “the soul loses itself in early autumnal revery while there is yet splendor on earth and in the skies.” (Huneker)

Patrick May

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2-23 October 2021 – The Eighteenth International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw

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