Ang Li Performs on the Distinguished Artists Series

Ang li Photo 8-30-12_edited-4

On Saturday, April 27, The Distinguished Artists Series directed by John Orlando presented Chinese pianist Ang Li at the First Congregational Church in Santa Cruz. The day began with a master class. Due to a time conflict this writer could only hear a twelve-year-old student Meiya Sparks Lin (student of Vlada Moran) performing selections from Bach’s masterpiece, the “Goldberg Variations.” Ang Li methodically and gently broke down challenging passages into simple, meaningful lines. What a fortunate opportunity for the young participants to have such a highly respected artist guiding them in their work.

The 8 pm Concert opened with Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K. 330. The first movement, marked Allegro Moderato, was perhaps a bit rushed, but with impressive, controlled dynamics. The Andante Cantabile movement was indeed just that: moderate, graceful flowing lines that could have been sung by a soprano. The third and final movement Allegretto was expressively interpreted employing excellent balances between the hands and in pure “Mozartian” style, in the fullest sense of the meaning.

The thirteen works that comprise Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Scenes From Childhood) followed. I found Bittendes Kind (Pleading Child) and Der Dichter Spricht (The Poet Speaks) especially appealing. Fluid, fully introspective and tinged with melancholy, they were this writer’s favorite selections.

Two Préludes by Claude Debussy opened the second half of the program. La Cathédrale Engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) and Feux d’Artifice (Fireworks) were superbly interpreted by Ms Li. Richly textured passages that evaporated into the atmosphere were comingled with wonderful dynamic contrasts complete with well executed glissandi and flawless runs demonstrating Li’s virtuosity.

The final three selections were “The Music Box” by Anatoly Liadov, Allegro De Concierto by Enrique Granados and Chopin’s well-known Polonaise in A Flat Major, Op. 53,“Heroic.” A Chopin Mazurka followed as an encore and the enthusiastic crowd rose to their feet to applaud Ms Ang Li in a well-deserved standing ovation.

The Distinguished Artists Series will start its 2013-2014 Season on September 21 and October 19 with the talented Tanya Gabrielian and Soheil Nasseri respectively.

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