Fanya Lin, from Taiwan, was a prize-winner in the 2018 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, and was giving her recital from Arizona where she teaches when not performing on the concert platform.
After a brief introduction she launched straight into her programme without any comment on the works themselves. She opened with the first movement of Schumann’s Fantasie Op17. Written in 1836 it is regarded as one of the composer’s most demanding and complex works, the opening movement showing numerous changes of mood and an evolving structure which requires close attention from both listener and performer. Given the complexity of the score, some introduction to it might have helped our ability to follow it.
The only other work was an unexpected rarity – Lowell Liebermann’s Gargoyles Op. 29. Though the immediate impression is of a romantic suite in four movements, it was actually written in 1989, commissioned by the Tcherepnin Society of New York. Highly technically demanding throughout, the extrovert quirkiness of the writing creates a mood of unease, even when the melodic lines are clear. The opening movement is fluid and demanding, leading to a haunting, if uncomfortable, slow movement. The undulating nocturnal third movement leads to the exhilarating gallop of the finale which requires both stamina and strength from the performer.
Though recorded in a studio, there was a problem for much of the recording with a time delay which meant that Fanya Lin appeared to be playing the notes after we actually heard them. Looking away from the screen helped, but it was a pity to have to do this as her playing was visually impressive.