Pianist Di Wu, it seems, genuinely likes to talk. That’s really quite refreshing when one looks back over this season’s Evelyn Miller Young Pianist Series. In the last of three YPS recitals, her warm and friendly narrative lead-in to the performance was a wonderful ice-breaker…and informative, obviously. But more importantly, it revealed an artist intimately connected to her music and one eager to share those connections. And share she did.
Refreshing, too, was Wu’s program selection on several levels. She opened with two works by the Schumann’s: Clara Schumann’s Mazurka from Soirees Musicales, Op. 6 and Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6. I admit I was a bit surprised at first by the Mazurka (in fact by both of the Schumann pieces), based on what I thought would be Ms. Wu’s intentions given her prefatory remarks. I was expecting Clara, the romantic, but seemed to get a tranquil Robert in a stiff and rigid mood.
In the Davidsbundlertanze, Robert Schumann quotes Clara’s Mazurka at the beginning and then proceeds to vacillate over 18 sections between the two self-stated aspects of his personality. In fact, the title page of his original manuscript (which he later removed) states that the Dances were dedicated to Walther von Goethe by “Florestan and Eusebius”—Eusebius being the introverted and lyrical Schumann while Florestan was the extroverted and intense side. These shifts of mood, and their respective harmonic colors, were strong. Yet, I couldn’t help believing that it was the lyrical Schumann, not the assertive one, that won Wu over.
Ravel’s Miroirs and Liszt’s Paraphrase on a Waltz from Gounod’s Faust consumed the second half of the program. Although the fourth section of Miroirs, Alborada del gracioso, is often excerpted from the rest, Wu played all five sections, indicating her sensitivity for the contextual connections. In fact, one sensed her sensitivity and affinity for Ravel, in general, with her vision of its nuanced and textural impressionism.
The dreary gray weather of the afternoon and the subtlety of Ravel needed the contrast of the final Liszt work. One was impressed both with the inventiveness of the Liszt transcription and the assertive and dynamic energy of Wu’s waltz.