Romanticism Magnified with Pianist Tien Hsieh
Posted November 15, 2007
On Saturday, November 10, I attended a recital given by
Taiwanese-born pianist Tien Hsieh. Titled Romanricism
Magnified, this was the second installment of the Virtuoso
Piano Series at Town Hall. Although the hall itself was only
about half-full, the audience, a few of whom I managed to
interview after the concert, appeared to be very pleased with
Ms. Hsieh's performance of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach,
Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt.
Hsieh started the program with two pieces, written by Bach and
Beethoven, respectively, and later arranged by Romantic composer
Franz Liszt. The first was Bach’s
and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542. I found that Liszt's arrangement of this work was so romanticized that
the Fantasy did not sound like Bach at all. It was not until the
Fugue that the qualities typical of Baroque music became
apparent. Ms. Hsieh played the
with great vigor and passion. Next came Liszt's arrangement of
An die ferne
the Distant Beloved), Op. 98.
performed this song cycle really well, so that it was like the
piano was, in fact, “singing” the songs.
The last piece of the first half was the
Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, Beethoven’s final sonata, written only six years before his
death. In my opinion, this was the highlight of the recital,
especially the first movement. “It was intense,” commented Asli
Omur, a senior at the
Washington, “[Ms. Hsieh was so animated that] her bun turned
into a ponytail.” Perceptible emotion aside, Ms. Hsieh’s feeling
and reaction to the music could be sensed in her intonation and
powerful crescendos and diminuendos, not to mention her
impressive technique. She seemed to digress a bit in the middle
of the second movement, but she regained her strength toward the
end and finished the Sonata with as much vigor and feeling as
she had shown at the beginning.
After a brief intermission, the audience reassembled for
Schumann himself considered this his most melancholic
composition. Ms. Hsieh handled it skillfully, playing with a
very broad scope of feeling, moving rapidly from merriment to
melancholy and back again.
Hsieh finished the program with Liszt’s
Rhapsodie Espagnole. “The Liszt was very exciting,” remarked Frank
Stackhouse, a local physician and lover of piano music, “[Ms.
Hsieh] has a great range of emotion.” Ms. Hsieh, acknowledged
for her expertise in the interpretation of Liszt, recently
performed at the
Liszt Museum in
Budapest, Hungary. The
is one of her signature pieces, and for good reason. Her
performance was so refined that she received a very enthusiastic
standing ovation. This led to an encore, Schumann’s
which the composer had written for his wife, Clara, and Ms.
Hsieh dedicated to her appreciative audience.
John Erling, avid music lover and proprietor of the late Fifth
Avenue Record Store summed up the experience: “This girl is one
hundred percent talent!” he declared eagerly, “Those fierce
octaves...[Ms. Hsieh] tossed them off like nothing. The Schumann
and Liszt were a knockout.” He added that it was a shame more
people did not come to hear her play.
For more on
the Virtuoso Piano Series at Town Hall visit our Events Ongoing
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