Szuyu Su - remember that name

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Ricordanza
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Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Apr 26, 2021 8:10 pm

Before I heard a note played by this young pianist, I knew from her program choice that she had a unique musical personality. For the opening work in her April 23rd graduation recital from the Curtis Institute, Szuyu Su (pronounced, per her own introduction, Soo-Yoo-Soo) chose Beethoven’s very last piano sonata, Op. 111 in C Minor. This piece—profound, transcendental, musically and technically challenging—is generally tackled by older, more experienced pianists. When they do perform this work, they usually place it at the end of the program. Starting with this work is an act of incredible boldness. It’s making a statement before she has even touched the keyboard—here I am, I’m a serious musician and pianist, I make my own decisions and I’m ready to share with the world my musical vision.

Am I reading too much into her program choice? Perhaps, but when I heard her play this masterpiece, my hunch that I would be hearing an extraordinary pianist was confirmed. The three last Beethoven sonatas are monuments in the piano literature. Neither “classical” nor “romantic,” they are written in a musical language that began and ended with Beethoven. The second (and last) movement of the Op. 111 sonata is in the form of a theme and variations, but defining it this way doesn’t begin to describe the imagination and exultation of this musical creation. It takes a special pianist to do justice to this work, and Szuyu Su has those special qualities. So, how would she follow that?

She followed that by presenting a very varied program that aptly displayed the individual character of each composer she presented. Here’s the rest of her program:

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN Mazurkas, Op. 63
Mazurka No. 1 in B major
Mazurka No. 2 in F minor
Mazurka No. 3 in C-sharp minor

ISAAC ALBÉNIZ Triana,”from Iberia

BÉLA BARTÓK Out of Doors
With Drums and Pipes: Pesante
Barcarolla: Andante
Musettes: Moderato
Musiques nocturnes: Lento
The Chase: Presto

CHOPIN Nocturne in B major, Op. 62, No. 1

MAURICE RAVEL Gaspard de la nuit
Ondine
Le gibet
Scarbo

It’s impossible to pick out a highlight of this program, since Su’s performance of each work was so well thought out and executed. Since I was watching at home (this was a virtual concert, recorded in Su’s home country, Taiwan), I was able to take notes, and all I could come up with for the three Chopin Mazurkas was three check marks! Her performance of the Chopin Nocturne generated a few words on paper—she played the work with a great deal of rhythmic flexibility. This interpretation might be a little grating to those who are used to the more straightforward approach of Rubinstein, for example, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and thoroughly enjoyed her performance of this exquisite piece.

In performing Albeniz’ Triana, from the Iberia suite, Su masterfully conquered the medieval finger tortures that this composer had devised for pianists and, in doing so, revealed the glorious Spanish and Gypsy flavor of this work.

Bartok’s Out of Doors suite is rarely heard these days on the recital stage, but should be heard more often. Su brought what I would call a controlled attack to the percussive and dissonant opening section, “With Drums and Pipes,” but delivered just the right touch in the atmospheric and mysterious “Musiques Nocturnes.”

Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit is heard more often in recitals and competitions, usually played by young pianists eager to show their ability to surmount the enormous technical challenges of this piece. Listening to these feats of pianism, one often forgets what a great piece of music this is. There was no forgetting the musical treasure Ravel gave us in Su’s performance. It was one of the finest renditions I’ve heard of this piece, and I’ve heard quite a few.

No one can predict where a career as a piano soloist will go. There are so many superb young pianists that the chances of standing out from the crowd are slim indeed. It takes an unusual combination of skill, charisma and luck to overcome these obstacles. But I saw and heard something special in this pianist, in her choice of program as well as her interpretation of these masterworks. So, if my prediction is correct and Szuyu Su becomes a star, remember that I told you so.

cliftwood
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by cliftwood » Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:37 pm

Henry..

I am so disappointed that I missed hearing this young woman's recital, particularly because I rarely hear you find a pianist as very special, which she must be.


Any chance that Curtis will repeat this concert sometime in the near future?


I hope to see you at the Perelman and the piano series very soon. It's been a painful drought.


best regards.

Ricordanza
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Ricordanza » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:43 am

cliftwood wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:37 pm
I am so disappointed that I missed hearing this young woman's recital, particularly because I rarely hear you find a pianist as very special, which she must be.

Any chance that Curtis will repeat this concert sometime in the near future?
Harris, I have good news for you. The recital is still available through the following link:

https://www.curtis.edu/performances/stu ... -april-23/

Just click on ACCESS ON DEMAND. I'm interested in your assessment of her playing.

Donald Isler
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Donald Isler » Sat May 01, 2021 10:42 am

Enjoyed very much reading your well-written review of this young artist, Ricordanza! Hope to hear her one day.

Was thinking of posting my recordings of the last three Beethoven sonatas on CMG. Do you think that's a good idea or not?
Donald Isler

Ricordanza
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Ricordanza » Sun May 02, 2021 6:12 am

Donald Isler wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 10:42 am
Was thinking of posting my recordings of the last three Beethoven sonatas on CMG. Do you think that's a good idea or not?
Definitely! I would be eager to listen, and so would many others on CMG.

Donald Isler
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Donald Isler » Sun May 02, 2021 7:11 am

Thanks! OK, I'll post them in the Chatterbox.
Donald Isler

Rach3
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Re: Szuyu Su - remember that name

Post by Rach3 » Sun May 02, 2021 9:28 pm

Ricordanza wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 8:10 pm
But I saw and heard something special in this pianist, in her choice of program as well as her interpretation of these masterworks.
Indeed. At her age an uncommon maturity and ability to be convincing in a wide range of repertoire,especially given the varying touch,color and tone required in the Albeniz,Bartok, and Ravel, not to mention huge yet differing technical demands.My guess is her strengths will lie in such works, although the Mazurkas were also distinctive.Thanks for this !

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