The John M. Long band studio hosted the American premiere of Hui-Ting Yang and Kuo-Liang Li’s duet piano recital on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m.
“Basically, we just want to introduce the audience to a different music style from the different era, from different countries,” said Hui-Ting Yang, an associate professor of piano.
The concert opened with a performance of contemporary Turkish composer Fazil Say’s “Winter Morning in Istanbul.” First written and performed in 2013, the piece is a reflection on Turkey’s cultural capital and features some modern techniques like muting the strings to produce the sound of a Turkish plucking instrument.
With Yang plucking and muting base strings inside the chamber and Li higher at the scale of the keyboard of the same piano, the beginning and ending of “Winter Morning in Istanbul” sounded like two musical instruments in conversation with each other, instead of one piano being played by two artists.
Kuo-Liang Li, a guest artist, said he stumbled on “Winter Morning in Istanbul” during a YouTube browse.
“I found it on the internet, and I was so fascinated about it,” Li said. “That’s why I was like, ‘I need to play this music.’”
The piece was followed by “Pavane, Opus 50” by Gabriel Faure, a French Romantic composer. Pavane is a traditional Spanish court dance, and Faure’s 1887 piece reflects that in its stately tempo.
According to Jonathan Henderson, a junior music education major from Athens, Georgia, “Pavane” was “a little easier to listen to” compared to “Winter Morning in Istanbul,” but his favorite piece was “Malaguena” by twentieth-century Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.
“I always enjoy listening to that Andalucia suit, the last song, that’s a favorite for me,” Henderson said. “It’s kind of a well-known classical chart that you hear a lot of times in movies, on soundtracks and things like that.”
After the performance, several audience members stayed behind to congratulate the artists and greet Yang’s mother, who was visiting the U.S. for the first time.
“I thought it (the performance) was excellent,” Henderson said at the end. “Anytime you can get two people of that caliber, that quality of musician, you can put anything in front of them and they’re gonna be able to make it amazing, which is what they did tonight.”
Yang-Li duet is taking to the road to perform in three cities in the South during the upcoming week. The next performance will be on Thursday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at the First Methodist Church in Dothan.