This past Friday, Jan. 22, senior Hung Phi Nguyen, performed his student piano recital in which he walked the line of technicity and pleasantness. Nguyen performed, not simply through his playing of the piano, but also through his body language and the flourishing of his hands.
Though there was no vocal aspect of the performance, Nguyen’s emotion still rang through each piece he played in both his emphasis on certain notes and his stage presence. Nguyen was alone on the stage, yet the dynamic expression of what he conveyed through his hands, facial expression and body allowed him to fill the empty stage and entire building for that matter.
The opening piece Nguyen’s performed, Beethoven’s “Waldstein Sonata op. 53,” was performed technically in the use of staccatissimo and provided a powerful and thoroughly entertaining melody. The piece was characterized by the juxtaposition between choppy notes, ranging across the length of the piano with a strong driving melody. When Nguyen sat down at the piano, he seems to enter his own world, achieving and maintaining complete control over his musical realm: the piano. At times, Nguyen was not even fully watching what he was doing, it seemed that he simply felt the song and instrument in his soul as he played.
The second piece Nguyen performed was a change not only in style but also in pace. Whereas the opening performance was extremely fragmented for large portions of the song, the second piece he performed flowed together much more smoothly and, at times, the notes even felt as though they were melting together. The melding of notes was played just as deliberately as the staccatissimo from the first piece, though at times the performance felt like wild chaos of sound.
The third piece Nguyen performed fell into slower sections, yet never allowed the song to truly slow down. Instead, the troughs in power and tempo served as transitions into the next calculated disarray of notes.
The closing piece of Nguyen’s recital was referred to as “The Dance of the Devil.” In this piece, Nguyen was truly able to allow the emotion he put into his performances take full form. At times he was hovering right above the bench, vibrating his fingers in crescendo. At slower times in the piece, he would lean back and relax, only to return right back to the edge of the bench scaling up and down the piano with undeniable power and control.
Nguyen’s recital exemplified his technical abilities but, more importantly. his attention to detail. In the second piece he performed, there were times the notes seemed jumbled all together, but Nguyen’s emotive performance style helped prove that each key he pressed on the piano was purposeful, meticulous and served a purpose in the layers of sound in the song.
The pieces Nguyen performed, as well as the caliber he performed them at, were showcased during last week’s recital. His stage presence and the emotions he put into every piece performed brought out his technical abilities. This combination of ability and passion was truly on display during Nguyen’s recital.