Classical pianist Angela Cheng performs at St. Andrew’s United Church on Oct. 27. (Photo Lisa Kohler)

Classical pianist Angela Cheng to perform at St. Andrew’s United Church

Cheng will play work by Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin

Canadian classical pianist Angela Cheng is coming to Nanaimo to present works by whom she calls “three of the best composers” for her instrument.

On Oct. 27, Cheng, who has performed with the Vancouver Island symphony on multiple occasions, is presenting a solo recital at St. Andrew’s United Church. While she’s in Nanaimo, Cheng will also be offering a master class.

At the concert Cheng will play two late sonatas by Haydn and Beethoven, followed by a nocturne, Polonaise fantasy and ballade from Chopin. She said they’re all pieces that she loves, and added that she wanted to include a piece by Beethoven because next year is the composer’s 250th birthday.

“They’re challenging in different ways,” Cheng said of the pieces. “They’re very different in character and very different in the way it was written for the piano, but very well written for the piano.”

She said the opening sonata is “typical Haydn” and was written when the composer discovered a new type of piano with pedals that could sustain sound better than his previous instrument.

“You’ll see in parts of the fist movement and especially in the second movement it’s very expressive,” Cheng said. “Much more than a lot of his other pieces from earlier but has typical Haydn humour and it’s very charming, very light and I think it’s one of his best pieces.”

The Beethoven composition is the 31st of his 32 piano sonatas. Cheng said the piece was written while Beethoven was completely deaf and the composer’s pain can be felt in the work.

“He wrote this incredible masterpiece that is full of hope and beauty, so it’s just remarkable how someone who has lost his hearing as a composer can write something so bright and hopeful,” she said. “So I find that very inspiring.”

The second half of the performance is devoted to Chopin. She describes the nocturne as a novel depicted on a piano. Cheng said the Polonaise Fantasie, one of Chopin’s final works, is unique in its merger of the fantasy and Polish dance forms. The recital concludes with Chopin’s Ballade in G minor, which Cheng said is the one of the composer’s most famous works.

“It’s a great thematic work and it’s powerful, beautiful, passionate, virtuosic,” she said. “It has everything in it that is good for the performer and for the audience.”

WHAT’S ON … The Nanaimo Conservatory of Music presents Angela Cheng at St. Andrew’s United Church, 311 Fitzwilliam St., on Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets $35, $25 for students, available from the Port Theatre. Tickets for the master class are $20, available through the conservatory at 250-754-4611.

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