Professor Thomas Mastroianni, renowned president of American Liszt Society, gave a stimulating masterclass to four enthusiastic pianists from all over the world.
The afternoon began with Chopin’s lyrical Nocturne Op. 9 in E-flat major, performed by Mark Germer. His beautiful sound quality and tasteful timing created an inspiring moment for the audience. The suggestions Professor Mastroianni gave to Germer were detailed, and succeeded in bringing more life to the music. His insightful interpretation really moved the audience.
The second piece was Au bord d’une source from Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année: Suisse, S. 160. The performer, David Reid, demonstrated very mature and sincere musicianship. Professor Mastroianni loved David’s sound quality in the high register and his thoughtful understanding of the piece. His main suggestion was on how to evoke a vivid image of water by projecting a clear melody with colorful layers.
Third on the program was Tony Zhang’s performance of St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots, by Liszt. Zhang impressed the audience with his sense of great drama and his emotive abundance. Professor Mastroianni took this chance to discuss the symbolism of Liszt’s music. According to him, the E major symbolizes the holy Saint. Considering that, just playing the piece with a full of pedal and thick texture might be too much for Liszt’s original concept of the Saint walking over the water. Mastroianni stressed how by listening to the undulation of the sonority one can more successfully create the character.
The last piece was the Mephisto Waltz, one of the most virtuosic works of Liszt, and quite a daunting piece. Despite its notoriety, the performer, Jonathan Cruz, played it with ease and strong confidence, showing a great virtuosity with his dexterity and sensitivity to colors. As an experienced performer of Liszt’s music, Professor Mastroianni again showed us an interesting symbolic interpretation of the piece. The refreshing ideas seemed to make Cruz more engaged with the music.