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When we read about the many talents and successes of a pianist not yet twenty years old, it is not unusual for some of us to be a bit skeptical about such a reputation attributed to one so young. But the all-Mozart concert by the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, featuring the brilliant Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel-Wang, in Durham's Carolina Theatre, erased all doubts.
This concert, though brief, gave the audience the kind of pleasure one expects from a Mozart program. The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle showed that it clearly deserves its reputation as one of the finest orchestras in the state. Under the baton of Lorenzo Muti, Conductor and Artistic Director, the Orchestra played Mozart’s exciting Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio and the Overture to The Inpresario with a skill and an exactness which made the composer’s great gift for melody stand out clearly.
Mozart’s early Symphony No. 31 in D, K.297 (“Paris”) also received a fine treatment, but with less precise cut-offs of phrases than listeners would have wished. Despite this problem, the instrumentalists in every section played all phrases with a lightness and care that deserve recognition.
The second half of this concert was the exquisite Piano Concerto in C, K. 467, played by Louis Schwizgebel-Wang, the nineteen-year-old prodigy who took the stage with composure and obvious pleasure. When he began to play, he was immediately absorbed in the music, concentrating on every phrase and bringing every note to life, displaying a masterful technique for one so young. His touch was light but firm, enabling him to bring from the piano exactly the quality and level of sound he wanted. His playing of the first and third allegro movements, calling for dizzying runs and arpeggios, revealed that he had more than enough skill to make himself master of any difficult passage in this concerto.
In the andante movement, however, there was something missing. Certainly this excellent player had the movement under his hands; his touch was delicate enough to sustain the poignant beauty of all Mozart’s phrases. But he was never quite able to play this movement with the expressivity it cries out for. He came very close to succeeding, but he was unable to arrive at that point. This weakness does not arise from being unable, technically and intellectually, to play the music with the quiet passion his listeners expect. The kind of expressivity missing in this performance comes from within the soul of the player. It will reveal itself only when he has reached a level of musical maturity beyond the skills of youth. His intellectual and spiritual growth will soon bring him to that level of completion. Even now, Schizgebel-Wang is a great pianist; in a short passage of time he will be incomparable.
When we are confronted with such a great talent as this young man’s, we are more likely to rejoice in that talent when he sits at the piano and dazzles us with his charm and skill than to take into account some other factors which must be present in his life if he is to succeed as a concert pianist. One of the most important of these is the generosity of patrons who admire his work, value his great artistry and are determined to do all they can to foster its development. In this community we are privileged to have a number of people whose patronage, in the form of grants and outright monetary gifts, have done much to sustain Schwizgebel-Wang’s advancing career. One of these is George Chandler, whose generous gifts did much to make possible this soloist’s performance with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Great young players must be supported with several such gifts even for one performance. Without this help, few performers would ever be able to thrill us with their talent.