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Agnes Wan, a Steinway Artist, is an internationally decorated pianist who is also very prominent in the fields of pedagogy and performance-related research. Her concert at Meredith College is an example of the many recitals and events in North Carolina that involve her. The program for this recital was an eclectic mix of music in roughly chronological order. However, the obvious connection within the program was that Wan clearly had an emotional tie with each one. Perhaps the best thing about watching her perform is the joy she exudes while playing. Wan has a sort of quiet intensity that manifests itself regardless of the mood set by the music.
A Prelude and Fugue from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier opened the concert with a showcase of Wan's intricate interpretation, mixing precise articulations with independent phrasing of each melodic line, apparent especially in the Fugue. An exuberant performance of Mozart's Sonata in D (K. 576) followed. Watching Wan's face light up with a smile while her fingers rapidly flew over the keys added to the music greatly. The serene Adagio middle movement featured a carefully phrased, lyrical melody and was bookended by two faster movements with playful articulations.
Before performing Liszt's "Vallee d'Obermann," Wan described her interpretation of the music. This piece was written as part of the Swiss set of the Years of Pilgrimage, where Liszt was inspired and overwhelmed by nature. Wan has found this in the music, but she also stated that to her, this music communicates feelings that are "deeper and darker" than nature. This could be true, as the music contains expansive and wide chords and swirling melodies, but also a sense of deep tempestuousness lurking beneath. After many changes in texture, the piece came to a close with a sense of unbridled passion, ultimately ending calmly.
Performances of Schubert's standard Impromptu in E-flat and the more obscure "The Last Rag" by William Bolcom followed. Rapid and intricate patterns in the Impromptu are almost harp-like in suggestion, and it was fascinating to see Wan's sense of humor at the transitions from the main theme and back again. "The Last Rag," contrary to some of Bolcom's more famous rags, has a more lyrical and slow melody that Wan described as "bittersweet." It was pleasant and moderate, but with an occasional tinge of longing or passion.
Wan closed her program by performing the Scherzo in E (Op. 54, No.4) by Chopin. This scherzo is spontaneous and sparkling, with unexpected sweeping patterns across the keyboard. Through this piece, it was clear that Wan performed the music with feeling that involved every fiber of her being. The middle of this piece features a slower section, with a melody that was more mysterious in contrast. It then returns to a beautiful ending, which in turn, ended the concert beautifully.