Renowned mu­si­cal duo strikes a sig­nif­i­cant chord with Shang­hai au­di­ence

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai

Cel­list David Finckel and pi­anist Wu Han trav­eled to four Asian cities last month, tak­ing six flights and per­form­ing the same num­ber of con­certs.

One of th­ese was staged at the Shang­hai Con­cert Hall on Dec 14, when to­gether with their col­leagues from the Cham­ber Mu­sic So­ci­ety of Lin­coln Cen­ter in New York, Finckel and Wu played works by Beethoven, Schoen­field and Schu­bert.

The au­di­ence in Shang­hai was fan­tas­tic, Wu said. “We could sense they were lis­ten­ing with such in­tense feel­ing. It proves Shang­hai has a sig­nif­i­cant au­di­ence for cham­ber mu­sic.”

Finckel and Wu have been artis­tic di­rec­tors of the Cham­ber Mu­sic So­ci­ety of Lin­coln Cen­ter — the largest per­form­ing arts com­plex in the world — since 2004. The so­ci­ety, the largest pre­sen­ter of cham­ber mu­sic in North Amer­ica, will cel­e­brate its 50th birth­day next year.

Finckel said, “There is no other or­ga­ni­za­tion like this in the world.”

The 67-year-old mu­si­cian from the United States was cel­list with the renowned Emer­son String Quar­tet from 1979 to 2013. He is also pro­ducer of Cello Talks, a se­ries of mini in­ter­net lessons, and pro­fes­sor of cello at the Juil­liard School in New York.

Wu, a 59-year-old pi­anist from Tai­wan, said: “Each of us will take the art form as our re­spon­si­bil­ity to cre­ate an au­di­ence, groom young mu­si­cians, and do ev­ery­thing to pre­serve and cel­e­brate the art form. The idea is that we should take the best mu­si­cians, who come from all over the world, to per­form at the Lin­coln Cen­ter.

“We make a foothold with great con­cert pre­sen­ta­tions, mu­sic re­leases and hope­fully speak to con­ser­va­to­ries that have the same in­ter­est in cham­ber mu­sic.”

Ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal, Finckel and Wu are renowned per­form­ers, mu­sic di­rec­tors, ed­u­ca­tors and the “power cou­ple of cham­ber mu­sic” in the US.

By bring­ing the Cham­ber Mu­sic So­ci­ety of Lin­coln Cen­ter to Shang­hai and other cities around the world, they aim to show “what is pos­si­ble in pro­gram­ming, per­for­mance level and in­spi­ra­tion through teach­ing and through the dif­fer­ent types of reper­toire,” the news­pa­per said.

Wu went to the US as a young mu­si­cian. She played many solo con­certs, and her teacher told her, “You are a good pi­anist, but you won’t be a great mu­si­cian with­out cham­ber mu­sic.”

Wu said: “I didn’t un­der­stand then, but now I do. Cham­ber mu­sic teaches you how to lis­ten. When you are trained as a soloist, your teacher tells you what to do, but with cham­ber mu­sic, you have to un­der­stand not just your own part, but also all the other peo­ple’s.

“You have to lis­ten and make de­ci­sions for your­self. The peo­ple you play with change all the time, so you have to be able to lis­ten, re­spond and have con­trol of the re­la­tion­ship in a split sec­ond.

“For ex­am­ple, when I per­formed with David, who played this beau­ti­ful sing­ing melody on the cello, I had to do the same on the pi­ano.”

Wu said that be­ing col­leagues in cham­ber mu­sic means that you find out what the other play­ers are like in a pres­sured sit­u­a­tion, whether they are sup­port­ive col­leagues, how good they are as mu­si­cians, and whether they have good rhythm. “You find that out fast,” she added.

As well as di­rect­ing the CMS, Finckel and Wu are co-founders of the in­de­pen­dent record la­bel ArtistLed, and Mu­[email protected], an an­nual sum­mer cham­ber mu­sic fes­ti­val in Ather­ton, Cal­i­for­nia. They are also artis­tic di­rec­tors of Cham­ber Mu­sic To­day, an an­nual fes­ti­val in Seoul, the South Korean cap­i­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to Finckel, a great piece of mu­sic is dif­fer­ent from other art­work, such as a paint­ing. “You put it (a paint­ing) on the wall and you don’t have to do any­thing about it. It won’t be any less great.”

But he said that for mu­sic, you have to make it hap­pen. “It is like a liv­ing thing. Schu­bert died soon af­ter writ­ing his last piece, the String Quin­tet in C ma­jor, one of the finest pieces of mu­sic ever com­posed, as though he felt it nec­es­sary to give this thing to the world,” Finckel said.

He feels his mis­sion is to keep great mu­sic such as this go­ing. “That’s what we have to do as mu­si­cians — per­form th­ese pieces, share them and keep them alive,” he said.

“The in­cred­i­ble thing about mu­sic is that on the day we played this Schu­bert quin­tet in Shang­hai, it was pos­si­ble that many other peo­ple in other parts of the world would play the same piece, keep­ing it alive.”

Speak­ing about cham­ber mu­sic in China, Finckel said: “One of the pri­mary mis­sions of the CMS is to pop­u­lar­ize cham­ber mu­sic around the world. We would love to come back to China more of­ten to per­form and to help peo­ple un­der­stand what cham­ber mu­sic re­ally is.

“If I had a dream, maybe it would be that within one gen­er­a­tion, say 20 or 25 years, cham­ber mu­sic can be some­thing that ev­ery­body can do. Ev­ery­body — all mu­si­cians in Shang­hai and through­out China — should play cham­ber mu­sic.”


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.