The Big Piano And The Little Piano

Well, the college concert season is here at last! Last night Shirley and I attended what is becoming an annual performance by Genevieve Lee at Pomona College. It is also becoming customary for her to perform at the concert grand and at the toy piano. It probably goes without saying that my favorite piece was Mozart’s Sonata in A minor (1778), a magnificent piece magnificently performed.
My own tastes aside: the highlight of the evening was the world premiere of Ge Gan-ru’s Hard, Hard, Hard! Preformed at the toy piano and accompanied with other toy instruments and voice, Hard, Hard, Hard!, commissioned by Professor Lee, is a sequel to Ge Gan-ru’s Wrong, Wrong Wrong! also for voice, toy piano and other toy instruments. Ge Gan-ru was in the audience for the performance.
Like Wrong, Wrong Wrong!, Hard, Hard, Hard!, was wonderfully entertaining. But to my western sensibilities, there was a lot of emotional tension between the sad lyrics of the 12th century Chinese poem by Tang Wan and the collection of toy instruments to which Ge Gan-ru set it. It’s not that the music didn’t reflect the pain of the poem but occasionally I had to remind myself not to laugh when the lyrics called for tears.
There was no problem in knowing when to laugh and when to cry in Lee’s performance of a set of György Kurtág’s Játékok (Games). Fun stuff! Great evening.