The amazing Mr Fu at Steinway Hall.
At only 24 hours notice George Xiaoyuan Fu gave an extraordinarily assured recital for the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
The opening two preludes by Messiaen revealed his immediate sense of identification with the expressive sound world of Messiaen.”Les sons impalpables du reve” were just that as he etched out with such imagination the icily expressive chords that are so much part of this magic world.
A world he continued to explore with 7 of Debussy’s remarkable Etudes L.136 .They are amongst Debussy’s greatest late works: “Behind a pedagogic exterior, these 12 pieces explore abstract intervals, or – in the last five – the sonorities and timbres peculiar to the piano.”
It was exactly this that came across with such total control and obvious delight from cascading arpeggios,delicate thirds ,repeated notes and octaves all played not only with a technical mastery but with a music understanding that gave great shape to each one of these miniatures.His use of the pedal too gave great colour and shape without ever clouding the textures that Debussy had so intricately defined.
Beethoven’s op 109 Sonata was given an exemplary performance.A beautiful sense of balance in the Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo gave us the texture of a string quartet and the variations that followed were played with great rhythmic drive and total technical command.It was prefaced by a work that he very eloquently and movingly described as one of the most beautiful pieces he knew.It was a highly charged performance of Oliver Knussen’s ode to his late wife: “Ophelia’s Last Dance op 24.”
His clarity,intellectual control and great sense of rhythmic drive were the same qualities that I had witnessed the day before from his mentor Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Amazing to read that George after receiving a degree in economics from Harvard went on to study at Curtis Institute with Jonathan Biss and Meng – Chieh Liu.He completed his studies with Christopher Elton and Joanna MacGregor at the RAM where he is now a fellow
Elena Vorotko, an artistic director of the KCT, in thanking George for standing in for an indisposed pianist unable to arrive from Vienna,very eloquently described how refreshing and what an eye opener it was to listen to the Beethoven after (and not before ) the Messiaen,Knussen and Debussy.
But as George had said in his introduction it is exactly the same soul just different ways in differing times of expressing it.
He can be heard again in Barnes on Tueday 17th in a recital that is announced as ” the audience is taken on a journey through a variety of musical eras and genres ,presented by one of the most outstanding young performers working in London ”
I can thorougly endorse that.