Lau, Daniel : Transcendent Colors[CD]
~ Daniel Lau
Biography: Pianist Daniel Lau has received enthusiastic press notices for both his solo and chamber performances. The Washington Post praised his 'exemplary artistry;' the Baltimore Sun noted 'Lau's beautifully shaded playing;' the Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) lauded his 'flair, great technical proficiency and expressiveness;' and La Liberté (Fribourg, Switzerland) cited 'playful nuances, translucent phrasing, and miraculous sonorities.' He tours nationally with soprano Sabrina Coleman Clark and is a member of the Ravel Trio praised recently by the Swiss Journal du Jura, 'Splendid interpretation, vigorous and nuanced playing.' Since 2006, he has released half a dozen recordings with a variety of artists, including a CD with award winning engineer Marc Arbort and a self-produced solo CD 'Transcendent Colors.' Dr. Lau serves as Chair of the Maryland State Music Teachers Association Chamber Music Festival and Competition Coordinator for the American Liszt Society Liszt-Garrison Piano Festival and Competition. With a special interest in Asian American and African American composers, Dr. Lau is committed to the performance of living composers. A versatile pianist, violinist and conductor, Dr. Lau has served as music director for performances of Manon, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Merry Widow, and The Magic Flute, among others. Dr. Lau attended Loma Linda University and the Peabody Conservatory, becoming a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda honorary society. He is an Assistant Professor of Music at Washington Adventist University. Notes: The inspiration for this debut CD arose out of tragedy. Within a period of a year, I lost two dear friends: Lucy Chang to cancer and Clark Davis to a heart attack. Both Lucy and Clark were in their 30s, full of life, and brilliant in spirit, intelligence, and character. Their losses were a painful reminder of the fragility of our existence, the beauty of special friendships, and also the sweetness of memories. It is to the memory of Clark and Lucy that I dedicate this labor of love. Enrique Granados's "El Amor y la Muerte - Balada" (translated "Of Love and Death - ballade") was inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya. Part of a piano suite called "Goyescas," this piano fantasy evokes a profound richness and dignity, both savage and mysterious, and is arguably Granados's greatest individual composition. According to Granados: "All of the themes of Goyescas are united in 'El Amor y la Muerte' ... intense pain, nostalgic love and the final tragedy - death. The middle section ... converts the drama into sweet gentle sorrow ... The final chords represent the renunciation of happiness." Beethoven's last sonata, No. 32 in C Minor, op. 111, is characterized by stormy passion, chaos and anguish, and finally for an awe-inspiring resolution. The two movements cast themselves in stark contrast: C Minor versus C Major, bold drive versus philosophical meandering, a persistent resignation versus a transcendent revelation. Yet, they work together so perfectly that it is impossible to imagine a third movement to this sonata. The second movement, the Arietta, is a remarkable theme and variations. The third variation brings to mind a style of swing jazz which would become popular 100 years later. The last two variations reduce the theme into smaller parts utilizing the upper register until eventually a trill takes over. Edwin Fischer suggests that Beethoven's opus 111 symbolizes this world and the world to come - "the relentless first movement portraying life's hard struggle, and the second representing the transcendental, in which details have become unimportant." (The Beethoven Compendium, Barry Cooper editor, 1991,Thames and Hudson) Funérailles is part of a collection of piano pieces by Franz Liszt entitled Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies). Containing the subtitle, Octobre, 1849, Liszt wrote this elegy to honor the memories of three friends who lost their lives in the failed Hungarian uprising against Habsburg rule. Frederic Chopin also passed away in October 1849, and it is hard to imagine that Liszt did not have his friend in mind. Indeed the third section of Funérailles is a heroic march that comes very close to quoting Chopin's Polonaise in A flat Major. This epic, powerful composition - perhaps Liszt's darkest work - is a noble and monumental tribute to those who died too early. Discovering the music of Chinese American composer, Tan Dun, was a revelation. His music draws from a variety of sources and similarly crosses many boundaries of genres. His piano work "Eight Memories in Watercolor" is Dun's opus 1, written when he was studying western classical and modern music for the first time in Beijing. As Tan Dun writes: "The Cultural Revolution had just ended, China just opened it's doors, I was immersed in studying Western classical and modern music, but I was also homesick. I longed for the folksongs and savored the memories of my childhood. Therefore, I wrote my first piano work as a diary of longing." Indeed, "Staccato Beans," "Herdboy's Song," "Blue Nun," and "Sunrain," are all based on children's folksongs from Hunan. These eight character pieces, so evocative and filled with longing, bring us back to a time when innocence was still alive, and remind us that memories and music can inspire in profound ways. These pieces are all very special to me, and it gives me great pleasure to include them in my solo piano debut CD. Please enjoy! Daniel Lau.
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