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JINGQUAN XIE creates musical magic with Bach and Chopin

Pianist Jingquan Xie

Toronto Concert Reviews in Toronto

COC Noon-Hour Concert with pianist Jingquan Xie: Photo: Karen E. Reeves

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON January 19th 2017

Yesterday’s COC Free Concert Series recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Seasons Centre featured a young pianist from Shanghai who is currently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School. Jingquan Xie, who studies with John Perry and David Louis is in the third year of the Performance Diploma Program. She is the winner of the Asian Pacific International Chopin Piano Competition and the Shanghai University of Music’s concerto and chamber music competitions. Her program yesterday was an ambitious one consisting of two major keyboard works: Partita No. 6 in E Minor, BWV830 by J.S. Bach and Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 by Fréderic Chopin.

It is almost commonplace today to find young pianists capable of delivering near flawless performances of the music of Bach and Chopin. We are living at a time that has been called “the golden age of piano”. Pianists are being turned out of all the major music schools with alarming skill and technique.

What separates Xie from other young musicians is that she has found her own voice and is making music that goes beyond the technical and musical demands of the music.

Xie approached the Bach with a lyricism that permeated each movement of the work. From the opening Toccata through each of the seven movements, the music sang. She used the piano’s capabilities to vary dynamics in subtle ways. She used the damper pedal to add to the sonority without blurring any of the magnificent harmonies. There was a clarity in the counterpoint. At the same time, she maintained baroque stylistic integrity through each of the dance movements.

The Chopin sonata was a revelation. Xie avoided the temptation to exploit the large, dramatic passages by overplaying as is so often heard. Instead, she let the piano speak by using her solid technique and musical instinct. The drama came through, and when it was time for the reflective themes so characteristic of Chopin, the music sang with beautiful tone. Her hands glided over the keyboard with tender caresses. I was particularly moved by the delicacy of the middle section of the third movement, Marche funѐbre.

This was a thoughtful performance of two musical masterpieces. Jingquan Xie demonstrated an artistry that is well worth listening to.

The Piano Virtuoso Series continues in February as part of the COC’s Free Concert Series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. On Thursday, February 2nd, pianist Geoffrey Conquer and soprano Elizabeth Polese will present a program of French and Russian masterpieces. On Thursday February 21st at 12pm Korean pianist Sae Yoon Chon will perform Beethoven’s Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 “Hammerklavier”.