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Cadenzas and genuine performances with pianist Claire Huangci

Pianist Claire Huangci
Pianist Claire Huangci

The multifaceted pianist visited IPR's Studio A ahead of her performance this weekend with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra.

Pianist Claire Huangci takes the stage this weekend with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, where she'll be the soloist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 21 in C major.

Huangci arrived in northern Michigan following a concert with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra Thursday evening, where she was the soloist in Maurice Ravel's piano concerto.

She said it's very unusual to get to play two concerts so close to each other geographically within a week.

"It's pretty luxurious," she said, laughing.

Huangci has collaborated with conductor Kevin Rhodes since 2008, and most of their performances have been of Russian romantic masterworks by Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, as well as both of the Liszt piano concertos.

Her most recent appearance with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, back in 2017, was as the soloist in Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto.

This weekend's Mozart concerto is quite a change from her previous collaborations with Rhodes.

"Doing Mozart is unfamiliar terrain for us," she explained. "I'm looking forward to doing this with him."

Pianist Claire Huangci performs music of Bach in IPR's Studio A (2023)
Pianist Claire Huangci performs music of Bach in IPR's Studio A (2023)

Mozart's music is not unfamiliar terrain for Huangci, however. She recently recorded several Mozart concertos with the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg and conductor Howard Griffiths.

She's not a fan of recordings that edit every single note, or that change the sound into something very different than what the performer played.

"It's not real," she said. "It's not genuine."

Instead, when Huangci records either as a soloist or with an orchestra, she tends to record large passages of music at a time in a take. "I prefer not to do too much editing within that," she explained. "I want as much of a big picture as we can have."

In Studio A, she played an original cadenza she wrote for her own performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25. The cadenza, she said, has motives from the first movement of the concerto and she also blends some of the orchestra's themes as well.

Huangci said her preparation for a concert is pretty straightforward: a good night's rest and not eating anything too heavy. (She learned that lesson the hard way, after a miserable recital following a large fondue meal.)

In fact, she said this weekend's 3 p.m. concert is the perfect time of day for a concert in terms of when she can eat.

Claire Huangci is performing Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 21 with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra this Sunday at 3 p.m.

Kevin Rhodes will conduct a program that also features Bruckner's Symphony no. 4. For more information and tickets, click HERE.

Music performed in Studio A
J.S. Bach, Toccata in G minor (BWV915)

Mozart/Huangci, cadenza to Piano Concerto no. 25 in C major

Kelley DiPasquale engineered this edition of Studio A.

Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.