Chopin: Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante Op. 22
Schumann: Fantasy in C, Op. 17
I. Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen; Im Legenden Ton
II. Mäßig. Durchaus energisch
III. Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten
Debussy: Isle of Joy
Hao Zi Yoh
I have heard Hao Zi many times but today in this glorious programme she made me even more aware of her unique qualities of scrupulous musicianship but also with a sensitivity to sound and colour that brought everything she touched vividly to life.Even the encore that she introduced so eloquently depicting a Malaysian rain forest was played with the same artistry and luminosity that she had brought to the Bach Partita that had opened this programme.Gently coaxing out sounds by plucking and dampening the piano strings whilst gently intoning a native chant.Bursting into more traditional cascades of notes played in the traditional manner all done with the utmost seriousness that created the atmosphere of her native country.
I remember Stockhausen asking me in Rome if he could use our Steinway Concert grand instead of the Yamaha that had been brought in specially for his complete Klavierstucke.How could I say no?But I did specify that the piano could only be used with two hands and two feet in the traditional manner!I had recently seen John Tilbury fill a piano with nuts and bolts in the search for special sound effects.Adulescu too turned the piano on its side as he threw rocks onto the strings!Luckily they were pianos that were brought in for the occasion whilst mine sat safely locked in a corner of the hall.
It just shows the esteem that Stephen Dennison and his colleagues in Cranleigh have for the artistry of Hao Zi to allow her to search for sounds inside the piano instead of only from the exterior.Infact from the very first notes of Bach’s glorious fourth partita we were aware of the extraordinarily luminous sounds that Hao Zi could conjure from this new Shegeru Kwai that was especially chosen by Sasha Grynyuk for the hall.
The opening of the fourth Partita BWV 828 was played with authority and with a sound of great clarity as the imperious opening chords in 2/2 are suddenly brought to life in 9/8 bringing a sense of rhythmic energy as it springs to life at the opening of this Partita written in 1728 and part of the Clavierubung n.1.There was an operatic freedom to the Allemande that was shaped with delicacy with some very subtle colouring that immediately brought a magic spell to this mellifluous outpouring .This contrasted with the injection of rhythmic energy of the Courante before the ravishing beauty of the Aria.Hao Zi brought subtle phrasing and a sense of colour with playing of great delicacy.Even the final cadence was judged to perfection before the playful Sarabande with its cascades of arpeggios ,just shifts of sounds creating an orchestral effect of shifting harmonies.There were ornaments in the Menuet that sparkled like jewels as even here she brought this playful movement vividly to life .She brought authority to the Gigue which was played with relentless rhythmic energy but was also shaped with such care with a sound that was never hard or mechanical as often it can be in lesser hands as they cope with the transcendental technical difficulties of this movement.Hao Zi was not at all intimidated as she turned any technical hurdles into music of searing intensity and intelligence .
Malaysian pianist Hao Zi Yoh was born in 1995 and began her music studies at the age of 3. By the age of 12, she already performed at Carnegie Hall as a gold medalist of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition. Most recently, Hao Zi was selected as participant in the Preliminary Round of Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw 2021. At the age of 14, she moved to Germany to study with Prof. Elza Kolodin at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. It was then she won top prizes in many international competitions including EPTA Belgium, Enschede, RNCM James Mottram (Manchester, 2012) and Concurso international de piano Rotary Club Palma Ramon LLull, Mallorca (Spain 2013).In 2014, she came under the tutelage of Prof. Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music, London, generously supported by Lynn Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Countess of Munster and Craxton Memorial Trust. She received 3rd Prize at Roma International Piano Competition, the Phillip Crawshaw Memorial Prize for an Outstanding Musician from Overseas at the Royal Overseas League Competition. She was also recipient of prestigious Martin Musical Scholarship Trust Philharmonia Piano Fellowships on the Emerging Artists Programme 2017/18. During her studies, she explored her relationship with music and her interest in creating sound colours: her MMus Project 2016 involved collaborating with percussionist Daniel Gonzalez to create a version of Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit for Piano and Percussion.Apart from this, Hao Zi also participated in creative outreach projects led by the Open Academy for children and elderly with Dementia, where she performed in Music for Moment Concerts at the Wigmore Hall. She collaborated with author-illustrator David Litchfield and improvised to his storytelling of award-winning book “The Bear and the Piano”.She is further developing her performing career being part of the Keyboard Trust London, Talent Unlimited. Hao Zi is also a piano tutor at King’s College London and gives masterclasses at Imperial College London.