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Ji Liu Performs Glass and Bach in Shanghai

Blog by Ji Liu:

Last year, I gave a recital programming Glass and Bach at Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre. I curated this programme based on the tonal relationship between pieces that were either "transformed" or being "transformed". For example, Philip Glass's Complete Metamorphosis is a series of five pieces that to me,  have a significant change in character and form with the transformation and the development of the pieces. And then, four works by Bach, Prelude and Fugue in E Minor from WTK Book I, and Siloti's arrangement of it, Prelude in B Minor, were mirroring each other; whilst Adagio in B Minor arranged by Stradal and Marcelo's Oboe Concerto in D Minor arranged by Bach were all in the form of transcription. Also, I included Agosti's arrangement of Stravinsky's Firebird at the end of the programme. The programme itself has several implicit "cycles"; for instance, Glass's Metamorphosis No.1 and No.5 share a remarkable resemblance with each other as they use the exact same musical materials and in the same keys - and this feature, to me, feels like a complete journey. Then, I started the programme with Philip Glass's Opening from the "Glassworks" and finished with Stravinsky's Final from the "Firebird", which complements my programming concept of unifying musical miniatures and creating them as one more giant musical "work" under one roof. The programming methodology I used to create this unified structure with Glass's and Bach's pieces is to "sandwich" and "alter" them one by one. This way, the constant change of distinctive styles makes my music expression more blended and, at the same time, makes the audience alert and aware of what's going on during this performance. Meanwhile, the concert required only a limited number of applause between pieces. Therefore, the continuity between each piece and the silence made by this strategy makes the whole journey more moving, as if the spaces and silences between these pieces of music started to speak by themselves. One more thing to add, I also included one of my original compositions, Metamorphosis on a theme of the Chinese Opera, in this programme. As a pianist-composer myself, I constantly realise the crucial connections between notating music and performing music. As part of my interest in "performing as composing", here, I showed my thoughts and intentions in creating an almost improvisational performance within a limited and restricted usage of musical materials - and explained how musical shapes, expressions, images and shapes can be portrayed and delivered, despite the minimal and repetitive harmonic developments. The programme is: Philip Glass: Opening Philip Glass: 3 Piano Etudes from Book I, No.6, No.9 and No.3 Ji Liu: Metamorphosis on a theme of the Chinese Opera Philip Glass: Metamorphosis No.1 in E Minor Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, BWV 855 Philip Glass: Metamorphosis No.2 in A Minor Johann Sebastian Bach: Adagio in B Minor (arranged by Stradal) Philip Glass: Metamorphosis No.3 in D Minor Marcelo/Bach: Oboe Concerto in D Minor Philip Glass: Metamorphosis No.4 in C Minor Siloti/Bach: Prelude in B Minor (based on BWV 855) Philip Glass: Metamorphosis No.5 in E Minor Agosti/Stravinsky: Firebird Suite Infernal Dance Lullaby Finale