"That was weird. That was really weird," exclaimed one audience member after hearing pianist Susan Chan play "Memories in a Ancient Garden" by Alexina Louie. Chan was standing and had finished reaching into the Steinway to strum its string like a harp. The strumming created an odd atmospheric effect - evoking the sense of someone who had stumbled into a long forgotten garden - and it received a strong reaction.
A round of enthusiastic applause followed the comment and seemed to cover over any awkwardness. But I think that it was very cool that this music received such a strong reaction. The audience of about 200 people in Lincoln Hall's auditorium had been following the second half of Chan's program very intently. This program featured new compositions of Asian composers (all living)and the music evoke a lot of Asian influence in the structure of the harmonics.
One piece, "Incarnation II" by Somei Satoh, consisted of closely hue tone clusters that were mostly in the lowered register of the piano. The repetitive playing of the tones caused a lot of overtones in the upper register even though no notes were played in that part of the keyboard.
A piece by Doming Lam perked up everyones ears with its unusual harmonics, and all of the numbers gave a good shape to this program, which Chan gave as a preview of the performance that she will present in Carnegie Hall later this fall.
The first part of the program consisted of works by Bach, Chopin (8 of the 24 preludes), and Busoni's arrangement of Bach's Chaconne in D minor. All of these were played extremely well by Chan - although I think that her interpretation was a little freer with the first three Bach numbers (Prelude in B minor, Sheep May Safely Graze, and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring).