Within 48 hours I had absorbed a high level of musical artistry in two distinctly different venues.
The first was the eloquent Louise Davies Hall with its golden hue of lights and balconies. As the crowning glory, Trifonov was hand-picked by Michael Tilson Thomas to open the San Francisco Orchestra season with Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 in F minor. And while the program framing the soloist was a bit incongruous with the concluding Respighi Roman Festivals breaking the sound barrier in percussive outbursts, Trifonov had, to the contrary, taken explicit care to melt his lyrical phrases with an affection for the piano and its singing tone dimension.
Following his mellifluous Chopin, Trifonov rippled through an encore:
As if this was not enough of a musical banquet, I found myself at an opposite polarity when I encountered a Chinese harpist at the BART Powell station.
According to the player, the instrument is notably ancient:
“The Guzheng musical instrument originated during the Warring states period (475—211B.C) in China and its tones sound like high mountain waves and continuous water flowing. It has been played over 2500 years.”
The harpist’s supple wrist fused as gracefully with her artistry as Trifonov in his keyboard inspired cosmos, had spun liquid phrases with relaxed arms, wrists, hands and fingers. Both understood the singing tone and how to produce it.
I noted the Chinese musician’s Internet Channel and her charming rendition of a song about a horse which simultaneously evoked a duet that Lang Lang had performed with his father, mid-point in the pianist’s Carnegie Hall debut recital, that offered a nice comparison of instrumental timbres.
Here’s Lang Lang and his dad playing “Competing Horses” which displays an ancient Chinese string instrument known as the erhu.
Without doubt China has a rich and diverse culture of musical expression that takes makes many ancient and modern instrumental forms.
Finally, it was a pleasure to experience a street musician and one inhabiting a concert hall in the course of two days.