PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Music on Main
Reich + Rite

Featured performer Vicky Chow, piano

Dates and Venue 28 and 29 January 2013, at 8pm | Heritage Hall, 2414 Main Street, Vancouver

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

A gentle exterior belied the vigor and stamina of Vicky Chow's attack on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Rite of Spring turns 100 this year and in celebration Music on Main and PuSH are presenting Chow's solo piano rendition of this monumental work. Notwithstanding the existance of a four-handed version, it seems an impossible task and certainly, by necessity, some of Stravinsky's music is left out.

Nevertheless Chow has done an extraordinary job of "leaving in." Themes and motifs layer and overlapped, crunching dissonances and driving, unexpected, pulsating rhythms still thrilled. One of the virtues of a reduction such as this is how the complex structure of the score can be exposed and sharpened.

The piston-like rigour of Chow's technique served it well.

If all this seems a little dry, Chow's performance was anything but. Now lyrical, now brutal, hpnotic even, she played with intensity and sensitivity.

Stravinsky was one of Steve Reich's influences, Reich is a favourite at Music on Main, so it seems only fitting that the North American premier of his Piano Counterpoint should fill out the programme. Also a transcription, by Vincent Corver, for solo piano and tape from an original scored for 6 pianos, the piece is typical Reich, loop on overlapping loop, layer on layer. Eight speakers around the hall meant the confluence of sound was different wherever you sat, some being quite faint and far away.

For an encore, Chow chose Digital Sustain by Ryan Francis. Clearly a favourite with her it is a charming piece, full of rhythmic changes and delicious bubbles of sound.

Overall, the evening was a tour de force. If by the end one felt somewhat pummelled by music, it was the sort of pounding a good massage gives - strengthening and reviving.

© 2013 Elizabeth Paterson