Sunday, May 24, 2009

Zhou Ning

The thin, bespectacled Chinese pianist started by delivering a fine version of Ravel's Miroirs, with his "Alborada del gracioso" done with a lighter touch than Di Wu had. It was all downhill after that, though. He followed it with Liszt's Vallee d'Obermann, a piece named after a novel by Etienne Pivert de Senancour, and not after Doberman pinschers. Zhou frequently lost the thread of this discursive piece.

He removed his glasses after that piece, going without them for Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1. He was sweating pretty profusely by then, and probably didn't want the distraction of sweat dripping onto his glasses. (I can personally testify that you don't want that in the heat of performance.) Zhou's performance was really strange, going from loud to soft and fast to slow in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. If he was trying out new interpretive ideas, he failed massively.

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