@Warner Hall on March 20th, 2022
Franz Liszt’s enormous b-minor sonata puzzled listeners who heard it for the first time. Clara Schumann called it “merely a blind noise.” Critic Eduard Hanslick wrote, “anyone who has heard it and finds it beautiful is beyond help.” But by the early 20th century, the sonata was recognized as the pinnacle of Liszt’s canon.
On March 20th in Warner Concert Hall, wearing a dark blue dress, Annie Qin gave a fantastic performance of the non-stop, 30-minute work, one of the hardest pieces in the piano repertoire, at her Oberlin Conservatory Junior Recital.
Even though the work presents many technical and interpretive challenges, Qin stylishly joined its many parts together in a coherent whole. She seemed to be channeling Liszt himself, whose emotions came through clearly.
After playing the opening notes with a careful touch, she brought a contrast in sound and color to the following allegro. The surprising accent with the thick texture showed how she focused on each one of the notes. Her nodding head gave prominence to the powerful touching.
After maintaining the tension, a sudden silence was filled out with clear and well-organized well-organized techniques. The endless arpeggios of the first theme seemed like flowing water that didn’t stop — slightly decorated and never too loud.
Her steady tempo during the flashy moving part was fast enough to deliver excitement. Normally, it is easy to get faster on the rolling scales. However, she controlled her movement and led the phrasing with stability.
She played the octaves in the development with mighty strength and captured everyone’s attention with touching emotion in the dolce con grazia section. In stormy passages, her fluttering hair showed powerful energy, and her fingers seemed to fly on the piano. Her sound echoed magnificently in the hall.
She didn’t just play the notes, but her facial expressions and gestures conveyed to the audience what she felt about Liszt and his music. Her clean trills and pedaling were well controlled so that the sound never blurred.
Even with the left-hand chords, the melody came through clearly. She distinguished well between the dreamy sound and the melody as well. Her change of mood from bright to dark caught the audience’s attention.
Her playing of the endless heavy octaves and melodic lines during the climax was awe-inspiring, bringing out all of Liszt’s intentions. She immersed into the final decaying chords creating an atmosphere of breathtaking silence in the audience.
Overall, Annie’s performance seemed to depict the journey of pirates to reach the island through the calm sea after lots of storms. Qin signaled the end of the voyage, dropping her arms. As this Liszt b minor sonata ended with its arrival in a quiet place. After the final notes faded, the large audience showed their appreciation. Qin’s stellar performance with a long, standing ovation.