"I'm one of those people who always wants to discover something new, that's why I like to occupy myself with diverse repertoire," Claire Huangci explained to us two years ago in an interview. At the moment, her the path to “the new” means, among other things, not only mastering great works in pianistic solitude or working with orchestras as a guest soloist, but also seeking new challenges with musical partners. Accordingly, she will be performing as a chamber musician in many places in the coming weeks: With her Trio Machiavelli in Bayreuth, and in piano duos with Alexei Volodin at the Elbphilharmonie and with Mario Häring in Blaibach. And as the first fruit, so to speak, of this orchard that has been growing for quite some time, she will release a chamber music CD in August 2020.
Together with her Trio Machiavelli, she has recorded works by Ravel and Chausson (for whose piano quartet violist Adrien Boisseau completes the instrumentation) for the Berlin Classics label – a project which allows a wish she has cherished for some time to come to fruition. "In the past, as a very young musician, I imagined that success as a pianist meant always playing solo. Very quickly I realized how wrong I was about that," she recalls. "In Germany I had the opportunity to find musicians of the same age, to develop friendships and to play together, simply because it's fun. And I noticed how performing, experimenting, and interpreting together broadens my horizons." In a previously published review, the Austrian Merker enthusiastically received the CD, praising "depth of soul and strong expressiveness" with Chausson, "clarity and density" with Ravel, and, in summary: "A recording that is definitely recommendable.
It seems like a strange coincidence that the CD release, along with the duo and trio concerts, all fall at a time when people all over the world are reduced to their own selves by quarantine and contact restrictions, and where musicians perform lonely live streams from their living rooms. And of course, the planned concerts must also find answers to the question of how to combine musical enjoyment with distancing rules - how to make a virtue out of necessity. With the Bayreuth Summertime festival, for example, a remarkable alternative programme to the cancelled festival has been created; the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall is expanding its summer concerts, which have been transferred to the courtyard in front of the building; the Blaibach Concert Hall has put 115 concerts on its programme from late summer onwards, in order to "re-open perspectives for the public and artists in this strange time," as the website states.
And which music fits into this challenging era? For Claire Huangci: a wide variety, but above all Beethoven again and again - after all, we still find ourselves in the middle of his anniversary year. The piano duo version of the Ninth is on her programme at the Konzerthaus Blaibach.
Even with Claire alone at the piano, Beethoven reappears continually. With a work for which a whole orchestra normally takes the stage - here too she is breaking new ground. With Beethoven's Pastorale, which she rehearsed during her three-month corona-related break from performing live, she has already thrilled the audience in Langenargen: "It was a fantastic listening experience that took the audience into the idyllic pastoral world from the very first note and captivated them. The pianist possesses a sound palette equipped with many shades, which allowed her to make the individual orchestra groups, even individual solo instruments audible," according to the Schwäbische Zeitung. Now, Claire Huangci will perform the rarely played piano version of the symphony in six further concerts, including in Emden, Berlin, Blaibach and as a highlight - together with the 7th symphony - at the Ruhr Piano Festival.
Many things are impossible in these strange times, and yet some things are suddenly possible. A recital in the Great Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie as well as at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with Bach toccatas and Schubert's Piano Sonata in A major is scheduled for this autumn. She performs alone at the piano, but in solidarity with other musicians: The proceeds of the Berlin concert will go to young artists.
Nina Rohlfs, 7/2020