In the heart of the beautiful city of Maiori, Daniel Shapiro, Professor of Piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music, taught a masterclass to three eager pianists from the Amalfi Coast Festival.
Yuiko Ohaka opened the masterclass with the majestic C minor Toccata by J.S Bach. Her performance demonstrated the kind of keen intelligence and sensitivity so crucial to presenting such a tour de force with conviction. Professor Shapiro’s guidance on harmonic structure instantly helped to give power and excitement to the piece. This insight helped us to understand how good performers may become “human GPS” devices, always able to know where we are harmonically and structurally in the piece.
Second on the program was Jing’er Xu’s performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 31, No. 2, the so-called “Tempest.” The drama of the piece displayed Xu’s vivid imagery and pianism. Professor Shapiro, a renowned Beethoven expert, offered his deep insight into Beethoven’s music that helped to illuminate the drama and stark conflict of the ideas in the movement.
The final piece was Bach’s D major Toccata, a celebratory piece which proves that J.S Bach wasn’t always a serious and religious man. Casey Rafn, the performer, described the Toccata as extremely “happy and joyful,” He conveyed the ebullient character of the piece through the brilliant touch of his fingers. Music came even more alive when Professor Shapiro helped to animate the performance with vivid imagery as well as orchestral color contrasts.