Beginning with Liszt “Harmonies poetiques et religieuses” she explained the back ground of Liszt, normally the showman, who was so saddened by the death of Hungarian comrades fighting the Austrian Empire. Mengyang gave strength to the funeral marches with a powerful display, her hands covering large fast moving chords across the whole range of the piano. She then played the famous Paganini Etude in A minor in a style full of character and emotion. By half time the audience was already rising in applause.
Mengyang came to England as a young teenager after passing through conservatoire in Beijing. She completed her studies as a school boarder, away from her family, at The Purcell School and then at the Royal College of Music. She has lived in London for 18 years and considers the UK her home. In a flourishing career, she has played concertos under Vladimir Ashkenazy. Also, in 2011, she was presented to the Queen for her contribution to the British music and art industry. This is on top of many musical prizes.
Her second half begin in a contrasting style of the three “Images” by Debussy. Her shading, use of tone colour, and the most brilliantly clear and precise placing of the music in the highest register was a real joy to hear. The programme concluded with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” a very well-known piece which she told the audience she loved because it was so difficult to play! Again, her mastery of tempo in this jazz style gave testimony to her versatility from the different demands of Liszt and Debussy.
At the end the large audience could hardly contain its applause and Mengyang returned for a short etude encore which again had her covering the keyboard with power and style.
This was a truly memorable concert in Cranleigh Arts Centre.
The classical chamber music season at Cranleigh Arts continues on Tuesday 26th June with a gala performance by four soloists from English National Opera singing both serious operatic duets and trios by Mozart and Verdi also with fun from light opera by Bernstein and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Photo: Mengyang Pan pianist with Stephen Dennison Cranleigh Arts Centre volunteer