Before Lang Lang (郎朗) and Yundi Li (李雲迪) there was Fou Ts’ong (傅聰). Born in Shanghai in 1934, and settling in London in 1960, he became for his generation a legendary, indeed for many the foremost, interpreter of Chopin. Next weekend he’ll give a concert in Taipei, and the extraordinary thing about his program is that it doesn’t contain any Chopin at all.
Instead, he’ll play Debussy, Scarlatti, Beethoven, Liszt and Schubert. It should be a fantastic evening.
He’s recorded most of the program items already. Indeed, he’s been very active in the recording field in recent years. An all-Schubert CD of a concert he gave in St John’s, Smith Square in London appeared from Meridian in 2009, as did a CD of 32 of Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas on the same label. He also issued a recording the same year of Chopin mazurkas, the form for his interpretations of which he received a special prize in the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw when he was 21.
The works he’ll play in the National Concert Hall on April 28 are Debussy’s Bercause Heroique, six Scarlatti sonatas, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major (Pastoral), Liszt’s Sonetto 123 del Petrach, (in other words, a piano piece based on Petrach’s 123rd sonnet) and five items by Schubert — the Hungarian Melody in B minor (D817), the Adagio in G major (D178) and the three late Klavierstucke (D946).
Some of these items, with their non-English names and obscure catalog numbers, might appear forbidding to non-specialists. But you only have to look at them in a little detail to find they’re merely products of their eras. The Liszt piece, for example, is one of the items he published in his Annees de Pelerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), evocations for the piano of places he visited in three years of wandering round Europe. It wasn’t a religious pilgrimage, though, but one where he visited places where Romantic and earlier writers had lived and written about. And the “D” following the Schubert pieces simply stands for the catalog of his works made by somebody called Deutsch.
Fou will undoubtedly play some encores, and it would be surprising if Chopin doesn’t feature among them.