Yuanfan Yang at Latymer Upper ‘If music be the food of life ……play on!’

A Mozart Sonata played with rare style with embellishments so naturally incorporated into the simplicity of a work of such uncontaminated purity.
Rachmaninov Corelli variations played with a kaleidoscopic range of sounds and a technical mastery that could shape these gems into a cohesive whole taking us on a journey of wondrous discovery.
Chopin Preludes that were an example of mastery and musicianship as he turned 24 problems into a continual flow of emotions until the final triumphant explosion of Romantic fervour.
Waves written by the pianist in 2011 tells the story of a pebble thrown into the water and its repercussions that end with the continual flow that it began with.
A story of life itself told by the extraordinary Yuanfan Yang in a recital in Latymer Upper School.
A school that has literally been reborn on a wave of music.

A school that has seen old boys such as my piano ‘daddy’ Sidney Harrison ( the first person to give piano lessons on television and teacher of Norma Fisher,Ian Hobson and generations of young musicians ).

Also the illustrious giant of the music industry the much feared Walter Legge,the husband of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and founder of the New Philharmonia after the war,and much else besides.
Sidney had opened with Ingrid Bergman in the 60’s the Polish Cultural Centre opposite.

Little could he have imagined a music faculty which can boast a roster of distinguished musicians,a recital hall and a theatre in his old Alma Mater opposite!

In fact Yuanfan before his recital gave a Masterclass in the recital hall on a very fine Steinway.

A class of young students able not only to rattle off ‘Gnomenreigen’ with consumate ease but also,like their young master,produce piano compositions of great promise.

Programme of the Masterclass at 4.30 in the Recital Hall

Yuanfan of course with his superb musicianship was able to inspire these young musicians not only in his Masterclass.

Andrew Bottrill,Head of Keyboard thanking Yuanfan

Moving into the theatre next door and onto a Yamaha concert grand he astounded us all,only five minutes after his class finished, with a full recital of superb performances.

The simplicity and purity of his Mozart Sonata K.330 was enriched by his discreet adding of embellishments.So discreet in this age where the purity of composers is often distorted by musicians that have read a book but not digested the very meaning and use of embellishments to sustain and illuminate the composers architectural line.A beautiful clarity and very precise articulation contrasted with the playful beauty of the development before the joyous reappearance of the opening.A languidly flowing Andante with contrasts of the hauntingly veiled pianissimi was followed by the sheer ‘joie de vivre ‘of the Allegretto and even the tongue in cheek final slide from a musician who is a real artist.
The Corelli Variations by Rachmaninov were played with virtuosity,mystery,colour and quixotic energy.The same purity of a sound as in his Mozart he gave to the haunting theme gradually brought to life with Rachmaninov’s first false footing variations.There was magic in the air with the fourth variation and the dynamic drive of the next three brought them to a monumental full stop.Awakened by the lugubrious eighth and the gradual build up to the cadenza of the ‘Intermezzo’.The improvisational character in this cadenza was beautifully played with scintillating embellishments that led to a magic change of key to the major as the sun appeared on the horizon.A gradual build up of tension and virtuosity all played with total command until the explosion of octaves and the insistent bass home pedal note.The expansive opulence of this final Andante was drawn out by Yuanfan to the limit as only a true artist can judge and the absolute aching silence after the final two pianissimi
chords was evidence enough of the magic that Yuanfan had shared with us today.
Chopin’s 24 preludes I have written about Yuanfan’s performance many times,most notably on Ischia in the music room/concert hall of Sir William Walton.A performance where intricate detail and poetic commitment unite to create a unified whole with a work that Chopin would only play a selection of four or five .It is only after his death that they are played as a whole creating one of the masterpieces of the Romantic repertoire..
What to play as an encore after such a monumental performance of Chopin’s Preludes ?Turning to the audience to request a melody that he would transform into a piece in any style that was requested.
Party Time indeed but only for the prodigiously gifted as he proceeded to improvise on The James Bond Theme and more to the point ‘God save the King’ in Boogie Woogie Style!

Able too to astonish us all with his ability to improvise in any style any melody given to him by the audience.
I remember when on tour in Italy with Yuanfan for the Keyboard Trust learning about the fact that music had chosen this young man from birth. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/09/06/yuanfan-yang-in-paradise/

Yuanfan’s parents extreme right and left.(His father is a Professor at Leeds University).Yisha Xue of the liberal Club and Sofya Gulyak (centre) Yuanfan’s distinguished teacher at the RCM

At a birthday party for six year old children one of the mothers wanted the name of Yuanfan’s teacher as she had been so impressed with the way he played his friend’s piano.
His mother was astounded as he did not have a piano at home and she did not know that he could play!Neither did he evidently!
Music chooses you and is indeed a vocation a wondrous ‘wave’on which the truly gifted are carried into a world in which music becomes the very meaning of life itself .



Yuanfan with his parents,Yisha Xue and colleague Noah Zhou

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