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Mozart, Beethoven come to life at Napa

October 02, 2018

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KIMBALL Gallagher performs at Napa on Sunday evening.—Muhammad Ali / White Star
KIMBALL Gallagher performs at Napa on Sunday evening.—Muhammad Ali / White Star

KARACHI: On Sunday night the classical music of Mozart and Beethoven came to life at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) with performances by New York-based classical pianist Kimball Gallagher and pianist Kaiyin Huang, director of Kairos Arts and a graduate of Juilliard School and Yale School of Music.

Described as a “dynamo”, “sunlit and rapturous” and “a lightning bolt” Gallagher’s stunning performances were a musical treat for the audience who were enraptured each time he arrived on stage to perform. Introducing the classics to the audience, Gallagher delved into the intricacies of each musical piece he was to perform and shared details with the audience, which allowed one to understand how each piece had been composed.

Gallagher’s sold-out 2008 debut at Carnegie Hall launched his international ‘The 88 Concert Tour’ which led to the creation of 88 International, an international organisation initiating and executing projects across the globe.

‘Mozart is the most difficult composer to play’

He started off his performance by playing Mozart’s ‘Piano Sonata’ which has three sections or movements; the beginning is of a medium speed, a melodic and more intense second section, and the third is a playful close.

Gallagher said that an overwhelming majority of pianists would say Mozart is the most difficult composer to play. “This is not because it has thousands and thousands of notes, but because every sound in the music is so exposed and delicate all the time. Every nuance is laid bare for the audience to see and because of this it presents a special challenge for the pianist.”

Mozart, he explained to the audience, is difficult to understand as he is such a genius in a way that all of his manuscripts have no mistakes, corrections or cross-outs. “He writes it down directly from his head and we see no outward sign of struggle, or even the creative process; we just see the finished results.”

Gallagher truly mesmerised the audience and not a note was lost during his performance. His other performances tackled pieces by composers Shubert and Beethoven, both of which were handled with a lot of love and mastery.

Shubert’s ‘Impromptu’ was played which was followed by Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’. “The Sonata has a three-note repeating motif which repeats 268 times in just the first section of the piece. The second movement is much less sombre and much shorter while in the third movement, the three notes expand to four notes and the motif is repeated hundreds and hundreds of times but this time at breakneck speed in a moment of musical terror,” he said.

Gallagher even played a duet with Huang; together they performed one of Beethoven’s most famous pieces — his Fifth Symphony.

Huang spoke to the crowd about how her first time in Pakistan has been a wonderful experience and looks forward to returning soon. She is the recipient of the 2015 ten outstanding young persons award in Taiwan, and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre in New York City, as well as across Asia and Europe and her performances encapsulated her passion for music.

Huang played several original compositions and transcriptions. Although trained as a western classical music composer, she found that her musical expression needed a wider canvas so she decided to fuse together eastern and western classical music to find her own distinct voice. Huang’s passionate performance was a visual and auditory treat for the audience.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2018