Concert Review: A delightful trip to China


On February 2, the Royal Danish Academy of Music welcomed the distinguished pianist Jane Xie, who gave a concert-lecture dedicated to Chinese music for the piano.

It was a great introduction to the wonderful world of oriental melodies and rhythms.

Learning to listen
The program for the evening consisted of several short compositions spanning over a hundred years of musical tradition. Between the pieces, Xie spoke about interpretation, history and composers.

Assisted by a slideshow and recorded musical excerpts, the pianist shared a depth of knowledge with the listeners. The talk had an informal, conversational tone. Because of this, even the more technical analysis was interesting and thought-provoking.

Although the piano is not typically associated with Chinese music, a variety of traditional pieces have been adapted for the instrument. It was somewhat surprising to hear how many strictly Chinese instruments the piano can imitate.

Beauty of the pentatonic
The music focused on the folk melody. The swift, soft and at times uncompromisingly beautiful tunes filled the studio hall. Evocative titles such as ‘Liu Yang River’ or ‘Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon’ helped the audience to appreciate the depictive character of the music.

Although most of the melodies used only five notes per octave, the richness of tone and harmony were impressive.  The music demonstrated that compositions do not have to be complex in order to be engaging. Much can be done with little.

Sit back and relax, while you can
The event proved to be a satisfying experience due to the sheer accessibility of the music. The melodies and rhythms were easy to follow. Each piece had a clear flow and direction.

The only thing that left some wanting more was the length of the concert. One could not help but feel that the program was merely a very brief sketch of Chinese music for the piano. A few more short pieces would have been a much-welcomed addition to the otherwise enjoyable evening.

A place to visit
With many events held every week, the Royal Danish Academy has much to offer. Another reason to pay a visit is the fact that many concerts are free of charge. As if this was not enough, the acoustics of the studio hall and the interior design of the building are nothing short of excellent. So, make sure you check out their website. You are bound to find something to your liking.