Li Siqian – streams of ravishing gold at St Mary’s

Tuesday July 13 4.00 pm 

Chopin: Sonata no 2 in B flat minor Op 35 ‘Funeral March’ Grave-doppio Movimento;Scherzo;Marche Funèbre-Lento;Finale -Presto.

Rachmaninov: 2 Preludes
Prelude in D Op 23 no 4
Prelude in G minor Op 23 no 5

Debussy: Estampes
1. Pagodes (“Pagodas”)
2. La soirée dans Grenade (“Evening in Granada”)
3. Jardins sous la pluie (“Gardens in the Rain”)

Ravel arr. Korsantia: La valse

Some ravishing playing from Li Siqian with a luminosity of sound from the first deep D flat of Chopin’s Funeral March Sonata to the voluptuous sounds of the hair raising transcription of Ravel’s La Valse.

The ravishing beauty of the più lento in the Scherzo of the Sonata was indeed to cherish as was the supreme stillness of the Trio section of the Funeral March.
Her total command of the keyboard allowed her to shape the great first movement with all the intelligent musicianship that we have come to expect from the Norma Fisher studio.
But there was much more besides with the meltingly sensitive sounds and scrupulous attention to the shaping of every phrase.I was surprised she left out the repeat of the first movement and that the great bass notes in the development were underplayed but her overall architectural understanding and the clarity she brought to the most demanding passages was remarkable.

The beautiful D major Prelude suited her remarkably sensitive palette of sounds.It contrasted so well with the technical prowess and energy that she brought to the G minor Prelude where the middle section was simply a sumptuous succession of ravishing sounds

She brought colours to Estampes by Debussy that I have only ever heard from the hands of Richter in his first recitals in London.The subtle shaping of La Soirée Dans Grenade reminded me of our old ‘piano daddy’ Sidney Harrison who could sometimes make the music speak as eloquently as any singer.
Her agility and clarity in the Jardins was allied to a disarming simplicity and extraordinary dexterity and rhythmic impetus.

But it was the extraordinary pyrotechnics not only of agility but also with her kaleidoscopic sense of colour that was truly breathtaking in La Valse.To see with what flexibility her hands could play glissandi was even more extraordinary when the sounds she produced were of pure glistening streams of gold.

Born in 1992, Chinese pianist Siqian Li started her musical education at the age of four. She studied with Madame Huiqiao Bao, received her Bachelor of Music Degree at the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing) and became the first pianist to be awarded the “Best of the Best – Top and Innovative Talent” diploma and scholarship from China’s Ministry of Culture. As a student of Professor Alexander Korsantia, she obtained a Master of Music Degree with Academic Honors and a Graduate Diploma at the New England Conservatory (Boston). She continues to pursue an Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music (London) under the tutelage of Professor Norma Fisher. Her performances have taken place across China, USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Japan, and South Korea at venues including Tokyo Yamaha Ginza Concert Hall, Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing Concert Hall, New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Egypt Cairo Opera House, Shenzhen Grand Theatre, London School of Economics, and Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover. She also frequents the festival circuit, with recent performances at the Annecy Classic Festival, Festival d’Auvers sur-Oise, Dinard Festival International de Musique, Shanghai International Music Festival, and BNP Paribas Rising Star Piano Festival. As a young musician, Siqian was invited to join charity concerts to support children’s musical education in China. As a soloist, she has collaborated on a wide range of repertoire with international chamber musicians, and has appeared in concerts with Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Xiamen Opera Symphony Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra, Ukraine State Symphony Orchestra, and the Central Conservatory of Music Youth Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

In 2020, Siqian won the first prize at the Chappell Medal Piano Competition, the Royal College of Music’s top award for pianists. She is the silver medalist and a special prize winner of the San Jose International Piano Competition 2019, a semi-finalist of the Leeds International Piano Competition 2018, the Grand Prix and a special prize winner of Vladimir Krainev International Piano Competition. She was also awarded first prize at the Imola International Piano Competition, Yamaha China Piano Competition Conservatoire, Puigcerda International Festival Competition, the Conservatorie Diploma at Tbilisi International Piano Competition, and prizes at Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition, Shanghai International Piano Competition, Chopin International Piano Competition in ASIA, International Music Competition Jeunesses Musicales Bucharest, China National Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and the Guangren Zhou Pianist Award. Meanwhile, Siqian is a Yamaha Young Artist, Drake Calleja Trust Scholar (London), the recipient of the Lansum Music Scholarship (Los Angeles), the Chengxian Fu Music Scholarship (Taiwan), and generously supported by the Talent Unlimited Foundation (London). Siqian is a nominated contestant of both the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition (Brussels 2020) and the 16th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition (Tel Aviv 2020). Both competitions have had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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