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May 21, 2011

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Trio of piano performances

THREE renowned piano players will perform in Shanghai next weekend as part of a prestigious piano event. Xu Wei provides a preview of what to expect.

In its seventh year in China, Piano Aux Jacobins 2011, the premier piano event in the country, will bring local music lovers three stunning piano recitals by Sergio Tiempo, Frank Braley and Lorraine Desmarais from next Friday to Sunday at Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

The piano festival which was originally established in 1979 in France has enjoyed six years of collaboration with China since 2005. Around the end of May or beginning of June each year in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, three concerts are performed in each city while about 17 concerts take place during September in Toulouse, France.

Young Argentine-Venezuelan piano soloist Tiempo will present the opening performance for the festival in Shanghai on Friday.

A student of Martha Argerich, the best-known female pianist of the 20th century, Tiempo was introduced to piano before the age of three by his mother, herself a piano teacher. At only seven years old, he gave his first concerts in the UK and France.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, Tiempo will perform Liszt's "Petrarch Sonnets nos. 47, 104 and 123." The program also includes Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, Ginastera's "Three Argentine Dances" and Chopin's "Selection of 12 Studies."

Tiempo says that he will bring something different to all the music that he will play for the Shanghai audience.

"I have always kept a very open-minded ear toward my own inner musical needs and this has more to do with my overall understanding of musical grammar which has been shaped by all the musical influences in my life," he says. "In any case I don't like to 'nationalize' music. The beauty of music is that no matter where it comes from it has no frontiers."

Besides classical music, the pianist also loves other forms of music as long as it's well done and as long as it is the vessel of human emotions.

Surprisingly both recital and chamber music provide the artist fun and pleasure.

"The thing that I like the most about chamber music and playing with an orchestra is that I'm not alone," he adds. "Being a soloist is by definition a rather lonely life. These forms of music-making are a breath of fresh air."

French pianist Frank Braley also incorporates some of Liszt's work into his repertoire for his performance on Saturday.

The 43-year-old began taking piano lessons from the age of four. Six years later he gave his first concert with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra at the Salle Pleyel. In 1986 he decided to dedicate himself completely to music and gave up his studies in science. In 1991, the then 23-year-old took part for the first time in an international competition - the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition - and won the first prize.

Braley will perform Beethoven's "32 variations in C minor," Liszt's "Second Balad," Strauss' "Extracts from Piano Pieces op3 and op9" and Schubert's "Sonate D959."

Braley says that he has been attracted to astronomy and maths since childhood and used to go to sleep by reciting the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

"But piano is another kind of art to me," he explains. "It is like changing and flowing astrophysics. Even today I can't tell what I love more. I think one day if I don't play piano, I will study the planets and stars."

On May 29, Canadian jazz pianist and composer Lorraine Desmarais will present a gig with improvised jazz music.

The musician's career took off in 1984 when she won the Yamaha prize at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal. In 1991, she received the Composers' Prize from SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) for her album "Vision" and in 2002, the International Jazz Festival in Montreal awarded her the Oscar Peterson prize.

Date: May 27-29, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 60-300 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234, 6217-3055


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