Saturday,
October 2, 2021, 8 pm
 at
New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall

Presenting

Hung-Kuan Chen 陳宏寬, pianist














 

 
 




~ Program ~


Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca from Années de pèlerinage II
(7’30”)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2
(5’30”)

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)
Mazurka in A minor, Op. 59, No. 1
Mazurka in A-flat major, Op. 59, No. 2
Mazurka in F-sharp minor, Op. 59, No. 3
(11’)

Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV 882

(5’15")

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque
Prélude
Menuet
Clair de Lune
Passepied

(18’)

Sergei Rachmaninoff
(1873-1943)
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36
Allegro agitato
Non allegro—Lento
Allegro molto

(21’35’’)




Foundation for
Chinese Performing Arts

 
 









photos: Chi Wei Lo,Xiaopei Xu and Chung Cheng
 

Hung-Kuan Chen 陳宏寬, pianist

"Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen’s career - as well as his life -- has been a vivid example of the concept of yin-and-yang. In that Chinese philosophy, apparent opposites are actually complementary: each fulfills a need in the other; one cannot exist without the other. Mr. Chen embodies a synthesis of seeming opposites that coalesce into a unique artistic personality.

Hung-Kuan Chen was born in Taipei and raised in Germany. He established a strong connection to Germanic Classicism in his early studies which he integrated with the sensibility of organic Chinese philosophy. "I’m Chinese by birth,” he says, "but I’m actually more European. I’ve read and studied a tremendous amount of the great literature and language of Germany.”

One of the most honored pianists of his generation, Mr. Chen won top prizes in the Arthur Rubinstein, Busoni, and Geza Anda International Piano Competitions, and in the Young Concert Artists International Piano Auditions. He also won prizes in the Queen Elisabeth, Montreal International Musical and Van Cliburn International Piano Competitions, as well as an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Mr. Chen has performed in many of the world’s foremost concert venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, the Tonhalle in Zürich, the Herkulesaal in Munich, the Sala Verdi in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, National Concert Hall in Taipei, Shanghai Concert Hall and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. He was the first to perform the Rachmaninoff Third and Beethoven Fourth Piano Concertos in Taipei, and gave the Shanghai premiere of the Bartók Second Piano Concerto. His plans for the 2015-2016 season include solo and orchestral performances in China and Switzerland, in Boston, and at Aspen and Yale. He is also preparing new recordings to be made in Switzerland in 2016.

Hung-Kuan Chen has enjoyed fruitful artistic collaborations with, among others, Christoph Eschenbach, Hans Graf, George Cleve, Joseph Silverstein, David Shifrin, Roman Totenberg, ChoLiang Lin, the Shanghai Quartet, Sui Lan and Andrew Parrott. His most meaningful artistic partnership is with his wife, Tema Blackstone, with whom he frequently performs as a piano duo.

Hundreds of students worldwide have benefitted from Hung-Kuan Chen’s knowledge and love of music. "Teaching and performing complement each other,” he declares. "Teaching is sharing, and by sharing, our search continues in a more objective way. When I share, I become the beneficiary of the results of the investigation and the continued questioning. This benefits my playing, as I’m often coming up with new ideas and insights.”

Mr. Chen is currently on the faculty of The Juilliard School and is a visiting professor at Yale, and is also on the faculty for Artemisia Akademie at Yale. He previously served as Chair of the piano department of Shanghai Conservatory, and was on the faculty of New England Conservatory. He has adjudicated prominent international piano competitions such as the Van Cliburn, Busoni, Shanghai, and Honens. His 2015 summer teaching engagements included the Chinese Foundation for the Arts, Piano
Summer Institute in New Paltz, International Music Akademie in Lichtenstein and Aspen Music Festival. Among notable pianists he has taught or coached are Yuja Wang, Sean Chen and Niu Niu.

In 1992, Hung-Kuan Chen suffered a hand injury which caused neurological damage and eventually resulted in focal dystonia. Through meditation and his own unique research, he was able to heal and return to his life as a concert artist. His first post-accident solo recital in 1998 received rave reviews and he was described as a transformed artist.

Mr. Chen addresses his extraordinary journey in these terms: "What gave me the drive and courage to find a cure? On one side was the curiosity about the human body, awareness and consciousness; and on the other, my desire to continue my art. This was the biggest learning curve I had ever encountered. It meant having to detach from ego and ambition. It taught me to embrace all that comes to me and be extremely grateful…to notice the tiny things - those details which create a full life and are often missed by most people. To be ‘in the moment’ sounds clichéd but is not. And as part of the search for meaning, the joy of being able to play again - that was a true miracle.”

A many-faceted individual, Hung-Kuan has painted and drawn, danced, and played several other instruments. He is a serious chef, bakes his own bread and homebrews beer. He is an artisan of home improvement, a skilled woodworker and an electronics whiz. He is a meticulous piano tuner, a knowledgeable jazz enthusiast, and an avid hiker. He brings the same level of curiosity and dedication to both spiritual and worldly pursuits.

 

(2016)

中華表演藝術基金會第三十三屆音樂季,將由鋼琴家陳宏寬在102日週六晚8點於新英格蘭音樂學院喬頓廳(New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall) 開場。這是中華表演藝術基金會自2020 2 月以來第一場回到喬頓廳的音樂會。當晚陳宏寬將演出李斯特、勃拉姆斯、肖邦、巴赫、德彪西和拉赫瑪尼諾夫的作品。喬頓廳規定僅有480 單獨座位,曲目不得超過90分鐘,沒有中場休息,觀眾需戴口罩,並出示打過疫苗的證明才可進場。票價 $15 (age 7-14),$30,$50,提供學生免費票 (十四歲以上)及非學生贈送券,請上網預訂,六歲以下兒童請勿入場。

陳宏寬出生於台灣,13歲時以資優生出國進修,先在德國修習五年,後來轉赴美國,在波士頓大學音樂系及紐英崙音樂學院完成學業,獲得藝術家文憑。在德國長大吸取德國古典文學,也閱讀過大量的德國文學著作,與中國哲學中感性的因素融合,講究的是彼此對立卻互補,正是陳宏寬獨特的藝術人格。

1980年代開始,他參加了多項國際音樂大賽,在國際上受到肯定,除了獲得魯賓斯坦及普松尼兩項的金牌,也在蕭邦、蒙特婁、范克里本、伊麗莎白女王等大賽中獲得大獎,並得到1991年艾佛瑞費雪音樂成就獎 Avery Fisher Career Grant)

陳宏寬的足跡遍布世界頂尖音樂廳,與眾多傑出的藝術家合作。在教育事業上,陳宏寬亦孜孜不倦,將自己的音樂學識和藝術熱情傳授給世界各地成百上千名學生。許多他的學生在國際比賽中獲得最高獎項。

陳宏寬現任茱莉亞音樂學院教師,耶魯大學客座教授。他曾任上海音樂學院鋼琴系主任,曾任教於新英格蘭音樂學院。多次擔任國際鋼琴大賽評委,包括範克萊本 (Van Cliburn),布索尼 (Busoni) 國際鋼琴大賽,上海國際鋼琴比賽,赫尼茲 (Honens) 國際鋼琴比賽等。

1992年,陳宏寬的手神經損傷,導致局部肌肉張力不全。通過 7年得以痊癒,重返音樂舞台。1998年他舉辦了康復後的首場鋼琴獨奏會,穫好評如潮,被稱作涅槃重生的藝術家。談起自己非同尋常的藝術人生時,陳宏寬說:"這是一次極大的考驗。這次經歷教會我,要抱著感恩的心接受生活的幸與不幸。能重返舞台演奏的喜悅,對我來說真是奇蹟"
 



陳宏寬音樂會後新聞稿

著名鋼琴家陳宏寬應中華表演藝術基金會邀請,上週六
102日在紐英倫音樂學院喬登廳(Jordan Hall) 盛大公演。雖在疫情安全限制人數等規格下,約330名熱情觀眾在場欣賞,包括很多位紐英倫音樂學院鋼琴教授,音樂界重要人物及很多遠道而來外地學生,都很早到場。 現年80歲,前波士頓環球報(Boston Globe) 主筆 Richard Dyer及普立茲獎主93歲的Yehudi Wyner 等多人都親自出席。 90分鐘的曲目沒有中場休息,陳宏寬一口氣由巴哈(1685-1750)、蕭邦、李斯特、布拉姆斯、德彪西、到拉赫瑪尼諾夫(1873-1943),含蓋巴洛克時期(Baroque)、 古典派、浪漫派、到20世紀現代派的作品,各有特色。 在場很多專業鋼琴老師都不約而同地讚嘆,每次聆聽陳宏寬的演出,都會聽到新的詮釋,動人的音色。 他的音域極廣,最輕細的地方也能清晰入耳, 最震撼的地方也不會覺得是在敲打鍵盤。所有的細節都在他掌控之下。生動感人如歌似韻,令人難忘。  

陳宏寬現任敎於茱莉雅音樂學院及耶魯大學音樂系。多次獲得世界頂尖大獎,在世界各地與著名指揮家及樂團合作演出,深受國際肯定。
1992年突然右手受重傷,最嚴重時,連按電視遙控器都無法做到。 整整七年不能彈琴,身心都受到嚴重的打擊。 他在此期間,研讀中西古典文學、佛經、氣功。 在七年後復出的首場獨奏會後,獲佳評如潮,被稱為涅槃重生的藝術家。

上週六演出後,全體觀眾起立歡呼,欲罷不能。
他又多演奏兩首安可,並向長期支持他的主辦單位獻花致謝。 中華表演藝術基金會下一場在喬登廰的音樂會,將由201
9年伊麗莎白皇后小提琴大賽第一名 Stella Chen2016年伊麗莎白皇后鋼琴大賽第二名及2019Avery Fisher Career 獎主鋼琴家Henry Kramer 聯合演出。門票$15-$50, 六歲以下兒童不可入場。 學生免費票及非學生贈送券,可在官網登記。疫情安全規格詳情請查本網站。


 
NOTES ON THE PROGRAM
By Dr. Jannie Burdeti
copyright©2021
 

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca from Années de pèlerinage II
(7’30”)

The Italian Renaissance poet Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374) wrote over three hundred poems about unrequited love for “Laura,” a woman he saw outside a church and most likely never spoke to. Between 1838 and 1839, Franz Liszt chose three of Petrarca’s sonnets for his Tre Sonetti di Petrarca, originally for voice and piano but soon transcribed for solo piano. At the time of composition, Liszt had recently traveled through Italy and, moreover, had been deeply involved with transcribing Franz Schubert’s songs for solo piano. Perhaps inspired by Schubert, these settings of Petrarch’s sonnets are Liszt’s first attempts at songwriting, although they are closer to Italian opera in style. This work went through five major incarnations: the original vocal version composed 1838–39, the piano transcription published in 1846, a vocal version for tenor and piano published the same year, a new piano transcription included in the second volume (Italy) of his Années de pèlerinage (Years of pilgrimage), and finally a vocal version for baritone and piano, published in 1864.

Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, the most well-known of the three settings, is based on the following sonnet by Petrarch:

I don’t find peace, and I cannot make war;
And I fear, and hope; and burn, and am like ice;
And fly above the sky, and lay on the floor;
And hold nothing, and embrace all life.
 
They have me in jail, and won’t open or bar the door,
Neither to keep me, nor free me from my ties;
And Love won’t kill me, and won’t send me forth,
Neither wants me to live, nor will let me die.
 
I see without eyes, and don’t have a tongue and sing;
And I long to die, and beg for aid;
And I hate myself, and love anew.
 
I feed on sadness, weeping grin;
Death and life disgust me both the same:
I am in this state, lady, for you.

(Translation: Nathaniel Baker)

Full of oxymorons and conflicting emotions, the poem undoubtedly resonated with Liszt. In 1838, the same year he set this to music, Liszt wrote a very similar utterance in his journal:

“I feel the talons of the eagle tearing at me. Two opposing forces are fighting within me: one thrusts me towards the immensity of space, higher, ever higher, beyond all suns, up to the heavens; the other pulls me down towards the lowest, the darkest regions of calm, of death, of nothingness. And I stay nailed to my chair, equally miserable in my strength and my weakness, not knowing what is to become of me.”

The work opens in the midst of agitation and angst, then spills over into a plaintive recitative. The theme proper is a lyrical, operatic melody. Liszt would later write fondly about his use of augmented harmonies in this piece. As the music builds, there are cries of obsession, melodies that are hopeful at one moment and sorrowful the next, and the work ultimately culminates in bittersweet resignation.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2
(5’30”)


(5’30”)After a life of writing massive symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and other large-scale works, Johannes Brahms, at the age of sixty, returned to the humble character piece, writing twenty miniatures for the piano, which would make up his Opuses 116–119. They are deeply intimate confessions, of which Jan Swafford writes, “Maybe all the pieces with their delicate lyricism are love songs to lost women in Brahms’s life, to Ilona and Clara and Agathe and Hermine and Alice, to Elisabet . . . and no less he may have composed the pieces to try and keep Clara Schumann going in body and soul.”

In ABA form, the well-loved Intermezzo in A Major begins with a tender, singing melody, harmonized by euphonious thirds, sixths, and tenths. Long-arching lines create a sense of longing, while shorter motives that are inverted in different ways create a sense of wonder. A darker, melancholic middle section ensues as we hear intertwining, imitative lines. Brahms offers a moment of stillness in F-sharp major before the darkness returns, this time in an outcry from the deepest recesses of the soul. The first section returns, though at first in hushed tones.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Mazurka in A minor, Op. 59, No. 1
Mazurka in A-flat major, Op. 59, No. 2
Mazurka in F-sharp minor, Op. 59, No. 3
 
(11’)

In his hands, the mazurka ceased to be an actual dance tune, and became a tone poem, a mirror of moods, an epitome of human emotions, joy and sadness, love and hate, tenderness and defiance, coquetry and passion. —G. C. Ashton Jonson

Chopin composed mazurkas from the age of fifteen until the last year of his life. He ultimately completed fifty-seven mazurkas, ranging from half a minute to over five minutes and typically containing references to three types of popular Polish folk dances: the mazur, kujawiak, and oberek. These dances were traditionally accompanied by mixed instruments, such as guitar, bagpipe, fiddle, and voice. Through the combination of Chopin’s folkloristic roots and his adventurous harmonic language, he transformed a genre of rustic dance melodies into art music for the concert hall. In these miniatures, Chopin explores the entire spectrum of human emotions while paying homage to his roots.

Chopin completed his Op. 59 in 1845, a trying year for him for several reasons. His relationship with his partner, Baroness Aurore Dudevant (best known by her pen name, George Sand), was slowly deteriorating. Health issues further plagued him that summer in Nohant, which the doctor blamed on hypochondria. Last but not least, the weather had been horrible in the countryside where Chopin and Sand lived: first it was cold and windy; then heavy rainstorms arose, followed by flooding, and culminating in a heatwave, causing everything to smell like rotting vegetation.

A wistful and melancholic melody opens the first mazurka of Op. 59. The theme returns in various guises and registers. A central section in the parallel major brings about a more determined hope before the return of the opening in the key of G-sharp minor—a half step lower than expected. Chopin adds a surprising detour at the coda before the music vanishes.

Both sweet (dolce) and dignified, the theme of the second mazurka (like that of the first) goes through various transformations: modest, heroic, and at other moments, played by the left hand. The soaring melody of the middle section develops into a ballade-like narrative drama with each repetition of its first and second themes. Chopin dedicated this piece to the wife of Felix Mendelssohn, upon his request. In a letter to Chopin, Mendelssohn had unabashedly asked: “My dear Chopin, this letter comes to you to ask a favor. Would you out of friendship write a few bars of music, sign your name at the bottom to show you wrote them for my wife (Cécile M.-B.), and send them to me? It was at Frankfort that we last met you and I was then engaged: since that time, whenever I wish to give my wife a great pleasure I have to play for her, and her favorite works are those you have written.” Chopin gladly complied and returned the letter with the second mazurka enclosed.

The grandest of the set is the third, which begins with an impetuous Lydian melody. The initial pathos gives way to a middle section in the tender key of F-sharp major, the same key as his Barcarolle, Op. 60, written around the same time and featuring melodies similarly harmonized in thirds. This mature, three-minute piece has a greater dramatic and emotional scope than many large-scale compositions. Initially, Chopin composed the work in full in the key of G minor, only transposing it later.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV 882
(5’15")

Hans von Bülow famously quipped that “The Well-Tempered Clavier is the Old Testament.” Bach’s two volumes of Das Wohltemperirte Clavier indeed cover not only all twenty-four major and minor keys, twice through, but the entire gamut of imagination, intellect, inspiration, and aspiration—words cannot capture the magnitude of this collection. Bach published the second book in 1742, twenty years after the first. The moniker Well-Tempered refers to the tuning system and Bach’s desire to demonstrate the possibility of composing in all keys during a time when equal temperament (equality between each key) was not assumed.

The lively dotted rhythms in the radiant F-sharp-major prelude are buoyant, bringing to mind an orchestral French overture. The following fugue contains a quirky subject that begins with a trill.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque
Prélude
Menuet
Clair de Lune
Passepied

(18’)

When Debussy wrote his Suite bergamasque in 1890 at the age of twenty-eight, he was in search of his own musical voice—one that would lead him on a path diametrically opposed to that of Wagner and the German musical tradition. Debussy became increasingly attracted to the French Baroque masters, including Couperin and Rameau, and he effectively infuses their spirit and forms in his four-movement Suite bergamasque. This influence is most recognizable in the work’s organization and choice of movements, all of which hint at the Baroque dance suite.

The unusual term bergamasque refers to a poem by Paul Verlaine entitled “Clair de lune.” In the poem, Verlaine writes, “Votre âme est un paysage choisi / Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques”: “Your soul is a favored landscape / For maskers and bergamaskers enticingly to roam.” According to musicologist Paul Roberts, “Verlaine employed the word [bergamasque] as an archaism, for its suggestive frisson and musicality, which is surely how Debussy intended it in the title to his suite.” Bergamasque can also refer to an inhabitant of the city of Bergamo in northern Italy or a sixteenth-century folk dance from the Bergamo region.

Debussy had originally refused to publish his early works because they were not in his mature style. However, after a publisher hinted that they would be successful given Debussy’s fame, he gave his consent. He heavily revised the Suite bergamasque before its publication in 1905, the same year two later works, Estampes and the first book of Images, become available in print.

The suite begins with a short Prélude, full of panache, from which emerges a curving melodic line. It contains the direction tempo rubato and is free and improvisatory—indeed, Debussy was famous for his entrancing improvisations. Musicologist Frank Dawes compares the melodic curves to the ones found in the Baroque arabesque art style, with its many lines and shapes intersecting and crisscrossing one another. A contrasting, mysterious section is in a stricter tempo. In the middle, Debussy quotes Fauré’s setting of the same poem—Verlaine’s “Clair de lune.” After the A section returns, a coda emerges with declamatory statements and cascading lines that intensify toward an assured finish.

Debussy marks the opening of the second movement, Menuet, as “very delicate.” It wistfully evokes the formalities and pleasantries of the Baroque dance. Debussy contrasts the theme’s staccato and its rhythmically driven mood with a more extravagant middle section that favors legato and long sustained passages. The coda references one last time the staccato articulations, followed by a soft glissando, which concludes the movement with an otherworldly charm. 

Debussy composed two vocal settings of “Clair de lune”—one in 1882 and a second one ten years later—in addition to the third movement of this suite with the same name. The movement was originally named “Promenade sentimentale.” Perhaps Debussy’s most famous work, its outer sections exude an ineffable calm, suspended in time and space. Musicologist Roy Howat has shown Debussy’s use of the golden section in this piece—according to Howat, this was the composer’s first experiment with it.

The contrasting Passepied, which concludes the suite, returns us to a more worldly dance and uses a melody that Debussy heard the year before on the Javanese gamelan at the Universal Exposition in Paris. It maintains a buoyant left hand throughout the movement. Originally called “Pavane,” it models itself after Fauré’s Pavane in the same key.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36
Allegro agitato
Non allegro—Lento
Allegro molto

(21’35’’)

In his memoirs, Sergei Rachmaninov wrote, “The sound of the church bells dominated all the cities of the Russia I used to know. . . . If I have been at all successful in making bells vibrate with human emotion in my works, it is largely due to the fact that most of my life was lived amid vibrations of the bells of Moscow.” It is no wonder then that one hears bell-like sonorities throughout Rachmaninov’s oeuvre, and the Second Sonata, dedicated to friend and classmate Matvey Pressman, is no exception. In 1913, during a family trip to Rome, Rachmaninov made sketches for the Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 36, and The Bells, Op. 35, a choral symphony.

The sonata’s interrelated three-movement structure is played without interruption, as in his Third Piano Concerto, composed four years earlier. The sonata begins with a tumultuous thunderclap that cascades into the deep bass of the piano. A descending-third motive that saturates the rest of the sonata, including the main theme of the middle movement, follows the opening gesture. The second element that permeates this work is a descending chromatic line in the left hand, which later transforms into a plaintive second theme. It reappears in the middle of the second movement, as the contrapuntal web spun around the subject.

Although Rachmaninov’s premiere of the work in 1915 was reasonably well received, he was unsatisfied and felt that it was too sodden—in length, texture, and technical difficulty. He compared it to Chopin’s Second Sonata, a staple in his concert repertoire, and wrote that

Chopin’s masterpiece “last[ed] nineteen minutes, and all has been said.” In 1931, he published an alternate, nineteen-minute version, not only taking out 120 measures but cutting other passages as well. While there are many supporters of both versions, the original version is commonly agreed to have a more coherent structure, as many of the passages omitted in the revised version contained important thematic links. There also exists the famous Horowitz edition, endorsed by Rachmaninov himself, which combines elements from the original composition and the 1931 revision. To this day, it is left to the taste of the performer, as great pianists perform all three versions.

Although Rachmaninov’s premiere of the work in 1915 was reasonably well received, he was unsatisfied and felt that it was too sodden—in length, texture, and technical difficulty. He compared it to Chopin’s Second Sonata, a staple in his concert repertoire, and wrote that Chopin’s masterpiece “last[ed] nineteen minutes, and all has been said.” In 1931, he published an alternate, nineteen-minute version, not only taking out 120 measures but cutting other passages as well. While there are many supporters of both versions, the original version is commonly agreed to have a more coherent structure, as many of the passages omitted in the revised version contained important thematic links. There also exists the famous Horowitz edition, endorsed by Rachmaninov himself, which combines elements from the original composition and the 1931 revision. To this day, it is left to the taste of the performer, as great pianists perform all three versions.

copyright©2021 Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts










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查 詢: 中華表演藝術基金會會長譚嘉陵, 電話: 781-259-8195
Email: Foundation@ChinesePerformingArts.net


    

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Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts




中華表演藝術基金會
Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts
Lincoln, Massachusetts
updated 2021