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Jenna Sung piano recital at the Wigmore

A Sunday piano recital that commemorates the Sewol disaster:

Jenna Sung, piano

Jaques Samuel Pianos Intercollegiate Piano Competition Winner
Jenna Sung
16 November 2014 – 7:30pm
Ticket Prices: £15 £13 £10 £8
Ticket bookings are subject to a £1.50 booking fee. This fee covers the whole booking and is not per-ticket.
Book tickets on the Wigmore Hall website.
Duration: This concert will be approximately two hours in duration with a 20-minute interval.


Haydn Piano Sonata in C, HXVI:48
Scriabin Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand Op. 9
Chopin Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58
Barcarolle in F sharp Op. 60
Stephen Montague Nun-mul (world première)
Gwyn Pritchard Tide (world première)
Ravel Gaspard de la nuit

About this concert
Identified by Gramophone as the ‘talent of tomorrow – today’, Jenna Sung gives her debut Wigmore Hall recital as a prize for the 2013 Jaques Samuel Pianos Competition. Jenna has won many first prizes at international competitions and is performing world wide including in the UK, Italy, Poland, Germany, France and Korea.

Sponsored by Fazioli and S. W. Mitchell Capital LLP

The C Major sonata is one of Haydn’s late sonatas written around 1790. It starts with a double-variation set in the first movement, where the primary C Major theme is contrasted with its own minor-key version as the secondary theme. The second and final movement takes the form of a Rondo, where distinct sections take on the characteristics of the sonata form. Haydn skillfully and imaginatively combines his love for monothematic forms with the multi-themed sonata-rondo construction.

Scriabin reportedly injured his right hand while over practicing Liszt’s “Don Juan Fantasy” and Balakirevfs “Islamey” (the latter is the piece that Ravel aimed to top in technical difficulty by composing “Gaspard de la Nuit”, which will be performed at tonight’s recital). This led to the composition of Prelude and Nocturne op. 9, written for the left hand. With influences from Chopin and yet very Scriabinesque, it is difficult to tell that they were written for just one hand.

Written in 1844, Chopin’s third piano sonata is considered to be one of his most difficult compositions, both technically and musically. It is said that Chopin had reached his maturity as a composer in the years when he composed this sonata. After some criticism of his second sonata, the composer seemed to have perfected structure and form without compromising his unique creativity. The sonata includes many passages of complex counterpoint which brings it close to the German tradition 一 “worthy of Brahms” according to some historians.

Jenna Sung will dedicate the second part of this recital to all that lost their lives at sea. This project was inspired by the tragic disaster of the Korean ferry MV Sewol on the 16 April 2014 – killing over 300 of its 476 passengers, mostly children. The idea led to the composition of two new pieces by celebrated composers Stephen Montague and Gwyn Pritchard, both of which were composed at the invitation of Jenna Sung. Today is the world premiere of both compositions.

Chopin’s Barcarolle, “boat song”, is an introduction to the theme of the sea. In the first part, the repetitive rocking phrases of the left hand and beautiful melodies in the right evoke the feeling of serenity. Yet uncertainty lurks – the falling harmonic modulation and the climax in the piece provoke the feeling that the true colours of the sea are hidden behind its peacefulness.

Stephen Montague’s new composition ‘Nun-mul” commemorates the victims and survivors of the needless tragedy. Nun-mul is the Korean word for tears. The new work is a barcarolle.

Gwyn Pritchard’s “Tide” is definitely not a programmatic description in sound of the sea and its tides, despite its title. It explores, in purely musical terms, the idea of gradual exposure, of one idea receding to reveal another hidden beneath it, and which is ultimately re-submerged.”Tide” is therefore an apt metaphor, which perhaps gains further relevance through the fluid nature of the initial material, and the angular, “rocky” character of the exposed sounds.

The title “Gaspard de la nuit” or “treasurer of the night” creates allusions to someone dark, mysterious and perhaps even morose. The first part of the suite (which is based on Aloysius Bertrand’s poems) – “Ondine” – is about a water fairy seducing an observer into her kingdom deep beneath the waters. The fast note repetitions and long arpeggios bring this mysterious spirit to life and in the end, rejected by the observer, Ondine disappears in tears and laughter.

In “Le Gibet” a B-flat octave ostinato is repeated throughout the piece. The changing dynamics and the harmony developing around the constant ostinato resemble the observer in the poem, who is asking himself what sounds he is hearing. It becomes clear that it is the sound of a bell that tolls from within the walls of a city where the corpse of a hanged one rests on the gallows.

“Scarbo! is the high-point of technical difficulty of all piano repertoire. Its repeated notes and double note scales depict the nighttime mischief of a goblin which continuously appears and then disappears into the night, pirouettes, hits and scratches against the walls. This horrifying turn of events appears, however, to be but a dream invoked in the observers mind by a flickering flame which is extinguished as soon as the candle is depleted of wax.

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