The sound of the piano has a tendency to make me melt a little inside. One instrument, larger than life, one pianist, and many, many beautiful notes dancing together to create a story of enchantment, love, despair and darkness. At times so gentle, just a hint of sound, at others so powerful, thunder claps in the sky, and all those degrees in between, the piano expresses sound like no other instrument. I grew up in a family of music, on the one hand rock and folk music and on the other classical. From my earliest moments I remember listening to symphonies, concertos and sonatas on the record player, dancing through an imaginary world of princesses, castles, ball gowns and handsome princes. Our small apartment was blessed with a large staircase that became a wonderful prop in my own interpretations of the music I was listening to: a descent into the ballroom, a flight towards the attic or a hiding place from the dragon. Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Ravel, Liszt, all have permanent places in my heart.
I’ve been listening to a lot of classical these past few months, going through one of my phases when I can’t get enough of it. You have a piece of music that was composed a century or more ago, recreated over and over again by different people through-out time. Notes on a piece of paper that are brought to life by musicians of different upbringings, cultures and ages, with one component that brings them together: the talent to play an instrument. And even more importantly: the ability to use their talent to insert a piece of themselves into the music they are playing. There are so many timeless pieces that can be interpreted in so many different ways and I love to hear how one piece can sound so different depending on the musician or orchestra conductor. I really love to come across a musician who can add a new layer of emotion to a piece that I know off by heart.
I discovered Ang Li while listening to her interpretations of Brahms’ sonatas. She is brilliant. Ang Li has the absolute talent to sit at a piano and make it sing and dance and play and mourn and weep. She was a childhood prodigy with her first public performance taking place at the age of 6 and has gone on to become a world renowned pianist. Born in China, and currently residing in Canada, Ang Li has toured the world playing a variety of famous and less well-known pieces. At the same time she has managed to obtain her degrees in prestigious schools as well as win more than a few awards. I see this woman as a rock star in the classical music world – she’s so talented, beautiful and from what I can gather from online interviews I have seen, has a really bubbly and vivacious personality, a personality that turns into rivers of pure passion and music as soon as her fingers touch the keys. In my opinion she really brought those sonatas to life, which made me want to listen to more. Since I heard her Brahms interpretation I have been checking out more of her work online and would love to see a live performance. Her performances of Rachmaninoff and Chopin are outstanding. I also really enjoyed hearing her version of Chinese folk songs – it’s as if she can excel in anything she puts her mind to.
For me it is all about what you can bring, as an artist, to an existing piece of work. There are millions of artists out there, millions of musicians, but it takes something extra special, on top of hard work, perseverance and talent to really make a difference. I see it as some sort of magical touch, a way to make your instrument (musical or other) sing in its own special, original way. What struck me with Ang Li is that when she plays, she plays with her entire being. Not just an accurate interpretation, not even just a passionate piece. Every time she plays she puts her all into her music – it’s all there, you just need to listen to how she plays certain pieces to hear how she wants us to see and hear the music. And that is something special.