Thursday May 20 4.0 pm
Chopin: Prelude in C sharp minor Op 45
Chopin: 3 Mazurkas Op 50
Chopin: Barcarolle Op 60
Chopin: 24 Preludes Op 28
Now I know that miracles do exist.
In the shadow of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome to hear such wondrous sounds from a young Chinese pianist was quite overwhelming.
Was it because it is his birthday treat or my homecoming after seven months away or is it that the Chinese and Polish souls seem to beat with the same intensity.
Fou Ts’ong ,much to everyone’s surprise won the mazurka prize at one of the very first Chopin competitions in Warsaw.The very competition that Bocheng has been selected to participate in this year.
It was in fact Ts’ong on one of his annual visits to Rome for concerts and Masterclasses who likened the works of Chopin to Chinese poetry.The soul,you see ,like COVID,knows no frontiers.
From the very first notes today one could sense there was magic in the air.
The solitary prelude in C sharp minor op 45 was played with a languid cantabile of crystal clarity on a flow of arpeggiandi of great sensitivity.A rare feeling for the style of nostalgia,aristocratic nobility with flexibility and freedom allied to great architectural shape.
He has a way of caressing the keys allowing him to produce so naturally such rich fluid sounds.
The beauty of his movements is mirrored in the sounds he produces.Delving deep into the keys like a great sculptor shaping a block of magnificent Carrara marble.A true artist is one where every facet of his being reflects his artistry.This is what we were made blissfully aware of today by Bocheng on his birthday.
Mazurkas that Schumann described as ‘canons covered in flowers’ must surely be directed to the marvel that is the last of the set of three that Bocheng played today.
A hauntingly beautiful Mazurka with the echo between the voices exploding into sumptuously rich dance rhythms.The ecstasy of the ending that simply dissolves with sublime aching nostalgia before the final beating of the drums.A real tone poem where so few words can mean so much.
The Barcarolle op 60 is surely Chopin’s most perfect work with an endless stream of song from the first to the last note.It was played with a constant flowing forward movement that sometimes Bocheng’s instinctive rubato was excessive where Chopin’s words are enough and it’s supreme simplicity and purity owe much to Mozart.
There were some magical modulations though and passionate outbursts played with sumptuous rich sounds.The cascades of notes before the final build up to the climax were played with just the ravishing beauty that had Perlemuter simply write in my score ‘paradise’.
Bocheng’s youthful passion came into it’s own at the end with a breathtaking climax with such natural care of sound and balance – to the manner born indeed.The gradual disintegration of this magical world was beautifully realised as a whole world dissolves to the final cascades of notes and the final passage that Ravel admired so much with such a subtle left hand melodic line.It was this work that Janina Fialkowska,playing at a concert dedicated to my late wife,whispered in my ear as she came off stage :‘that was Ileana’.
The 24 Preludes op 28 that FouTs’ong described as 24 problems were no such thing for Bocheng.He gave a wondrous performance of seamless sounds from the softly whispered opening flourish to the dazzling virtuosity of the sixteenth and the passionate declarations of operatic proportions of the eighteenth.The ferocious savagery of the twelfth was answered by the sublime tone poem of the so called ‘Raindrop’ Prelude .The great C minor twentieth prelude was played with a nobility of sound and an almost mystical calm that made one realise why this prelude had been used by composers as a basis for variations.There was youthful passion in the eighth after the absolute simplicity of the elegant waltz of the seventh that was to be used for the ballet Les Sylphides.Have just two notes ever had such poignant meaning as in the fourth and there was such haunting beauty in the seventeenth.
The performance was a kaleidoscope of aristocratic good taste ,brilliance,ravishing beauty and passion.
But is was above all the sublime poetry that this young Chinese pianist was able to convey that will remain with me for a long time.
Happy Birthday dear Bocheng!
I agree ! I was very moved at various points in Bocheng Wang’s recital. Some wonderful poetic playing . He is an exceptional pianist. Here is the HD link for everyone to enjoy https://youtu.be/7FbtvSrflNM. Dr Hugh Mather
Concert pianist Bocheng Wang is a scholar of the Elton John Award, Drake Calleja Trust and YAMAHA Foundation of Europe. He is also an artist of the Keyboard Charitable Trust and Talent Unlimited Foundation. Born in Lanzhou, China. Bocheng Wang first began his career by performing a celebratory concert in honour of HM The Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, where he made a debut performing Mozart’s Concerto in D minor No.20 with the London Mozart Players in June 2016 (cond. Dominic Ellis-Peckham). In the same year, he also played the Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto with the Dulwich Symphony Orchestra (cond. Leigh O’Hara), and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Purcell Symphony Orchestra (cond. Robin O’Neil). In January 2020, Bocheng collaborated with the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra by performing the Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 (cond. John Wilson).
Throughout his career so far, Bocheng has performed in many venues such as the Wigmore Hall, King’s Place, St.Martins-in-the-field and FAZIOLI Hall. He is a prizewinner in many prestigious international piano competitions, including Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Scholarships Competition(First Prize), Croydon Concerto Competition(First Prize), Liszt International Society Piano Competition(Second prize), The “Young Pianist of the North” International Piano Competition(Third Prize), UK Open International Piano Competition(Fifth Prize) and Semifinalist at the Santander International Piano Competition. He also appeared in many international festivals such as Konzertarbeitswochen Goslar(Germany), PianoTexas(USA), Ferrara,(Italy) Oxford and Dartington(UK), as well as having many masterclasses worldwide with maestros such as Professor Dmitri Bashkirov, Arie Vardi, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Dmitri Alexeev, Pascal Rogé and Pascal Devoyon. ?Most recently, Bocheng has graduated from his Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours under professor Christopher Elton and he is currently studying his Master Degree under Professor Ian Fountain at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Bocheng has also been awarded LRAM(Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music) and he is the Founder and Artistic Director at the Pianoland Academy. Bocheng’s upcoming engagements are including performing at the Southbank Centre in London, as well as one of the participants at the prestigious XVIII Chopin International Piano Competition in 2021.