Concert Review

Katherine Chi, piano
Chamber Music Kelowna
Nov. 14, 2017

 Almost a complete full house was delighted by a wonderful concert program of all piano solo music by Katherine Chi this past Tuesday, Nov.14 at the Mary Irwin Theatre.  Ms. Chi is a well established Canadian performer who has won several awards and been performing worldwide. 

The program was set to open with the first Feinberg Sonata.  However, Ms. Chi announced a change in program to incorporate some Canadian content.  She opened with a couple of pieces by Canadian composer Alexina Louie, the second of which was commissioned specifically for the performer.  The first piece, “O Moon”, was all that an Alexina Louie piece should be:  imaginative, unexpected, and magical.  The twinkling of the stars could be heard as the night mood was set.  The second piece, “Put on your running shoes”, was a true test of technical ability that did not disappoint.  The running pace was evident and the audience was riveted from the first step to the last.

Ms. Chi followed with the popular “Waldstein” Sonata by Beethoven, which was clearly well thought out and expertly executed.  The clarity of the scales was well balanced with beautiful moments of voicing and slight bits of rubato, fitting for this time period.  It was wonderful to hear a change in the focus in the return of the theme of the first movement, where Ms. Chi highlighted different melodic lines.  The slow tempo of the second movement had the audience captivated as we could feel the tension in between the notes.  Quick and clear technique was showcased in the third movement with continous trills and rolling scales, as well as dramatic dynamic changes so prominent in Beethoven’s works.  The Coda presents a challenge with glissandi octaves that were a bit lost, mostly due to the temperament of the Steinway touch.  All was recaptured in the exciting ending of the final chords.

The second half of the program was well introduced by Ms. Chi as a set of 9 etudes, op. 39, by Rachmaninoff.  It is always so helpful for the audience to have a sense of what each etude is meant to portray before hearing them, especially when they are so picturesque in nature as these are.  From the turmoil of the first etude, to the drama and emotional depth of the popular fifth etude, right through to the rhythmic, march-like final piece, Ms. Chi provided depth and artistic integrity to each.  Her command of the keyboard was extraordinary and it was evident that she connected with the drama of the music.

A well-deserved standing ovation was greeting with numerous bows but, unfortunately, no encore.  We would love to hear more, Ms.Chi!  Please come again!