George Xiaoyuan Fu: Passacaglia on a theme by radiohead (2020, world premiere)
Knussen: Ophelia's Last Dance
Schubert: Sonata in C minor, D958
Debussy: Selection from Douze Études, L.136 American pianist George Xiaoyuan Fu is establishing an international reputation as a captivating musician with distinctive intelligence and sensitivity. In a debut concert, he premieres his own composition along with stirring works by Knussen, Debussy and Schubert.
In general, music defies plain definitions and simple themes. But if I had to pick a theme for this recital, it would be one of retrospection: looking through and acknowledging the past, and in doing so redefining the present and future.
All the pieces on the program negotiate this tension: From my own piece, passacaglia on a theme by radiohead, a piano fantasy written on the bassline of the first track of OK Computer; to Olly Knussen's Ophelia's Last Dance, a dance written on compositional fragments from decades ago, in memory of his late wife; to Schubert's dark Sonata in C minor, D958, fully realised in his highly personal and autobiographical Late Style; to Debussy's Études, a collection of late masterpieces that look back at Chopin’s set of studies while deploying fantastical virtuosity and color that reach toward the avant-garde.
Retrospection means an invitation to reflect on fragments of the past, which are often "related more by personal history and mood than by anything concrete," as Olly wrote in the foreword to Ophelia's Last Dance. From this flotsam of memory, I've gathered this collection of intimate, stunning music, inviting listeners to weave it into their own personal stories.
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