Cho-Liang Lin brings
By Juliette Javaheri
The “Virtuosos and Visions” concert on November 21st, 2008 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art called upon a diverse cast of performers to dazzle the audience with performance techniques both traditional and avant-garde.
The concert began with a stunning interpretation of Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C Major performed by Cho-Liang Lin and Susie Park. Ms. Park played with incredible poise and expression. Her sound was extremely captivating, with a beautiful vibrato and wonderful control in her bow arm. She made beautiful phrases that held my attention throughout. Mr. Lin’s playing this evening was very solid and always with good taste. Together they formed a violin power team; it was an excellent performance.
The graceful Min-Xiao Fen mesmerized the audience with her performances this evening both as pipa player and as vocalist. Her performance of a traditional Chinese piece about Wild Geese depicted vividly the sounds of the animals flying through the sky. The next piece incorporated her traditional Chinese style with a jazz influence from Miles Davis. Min-Xiao Fen has made a career in the U.S. mixing styles and stretching the boundaries of her instrument.
The main event of the night was the breathtaking performance of Tan Dun’s “Ghost Opera.” This piece is a five-movement work for string quartet and pipa. With the addition of shadows and colored lighting, trickling water on stage, and percussive sounds that utilized metal, paper and rocks, the performance was a feast for the senses. This may have been one of the most challenging pieces the players have ever had to perform, but not for traditional reasons. In addition to playing their respective instruments, the “Ghost Opera” requires its performers to talk, shout, use rocks as instruments, and even play their instruments while walking or dancing across the stage. Many different elements are blended together to create an experience that is not like anything I have seen before. The music of Bach was mixed and contrasted with elements from Chinese dramatic theater. Tan Dun’s concept was to mix elements of different cultures (Chinese, Tibetan, English and American) and different times (past, present, future, and the eternal) to create a reflection on human spirituality. To this end, the performers did a wonderful job. The most memorable moments of the evening were the opening Bach solo by Ms. Park, the trickling of water by Mr. Lin, screened shadow casting by the various artists, and the viola soli and shouting done by the very dramatic and convincing Atar Arad. This was a captivating performance and I hope more people will get a chance to hear and see it live.