Shen Ziyu's reinvention of the viola

Writer: Li Dan  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-08

The first doctorate program pursuer in viola at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Shen Ziyu will perform a concert this evening, bringing to life the works of Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Piazzolla and Akira Nishimura.

The whimsy and romantic program handpicked by the young violist is meant to mark Women’s Day. Xu Xinhui will accompany Shen on the piano.

Shen Ziyu

Opening the show will be Shen performing Bach’s timeless piece “Cello Suite No.1 in G Major, BWV 1007.” “Three Romances, Op. 94” by Schumann, a quintessential romantic, was originally written for violin or oboe and piano, and has charmed listeners with sonic fairytales. Shen is confident that the piece can work its magic in a fresh arrangement for the viola and piano.

She will also perform the scherzo (the third movement) from Brahms’ “F-A-E Sonata,” an interesting piece with each movement based on the musical notes F, A, E. They also represent a cryptogram: “Frei Aber Einsam” (free but lonely). The scherzo is particularly noteworthy for its rhythmic strength.

Audience members will hear an unfamiliar piece by Japanese composer Nishimura. His “Fantasia on ‘Song of the Birds’” was inspired by Spanish musician Casals’ performance of a haunting and melancholy folk tune of his native Catalonia. Casals had experienced the horrors of both world wars, and this piece embodied the cello virtuoso’s prayers for peace. The original piece was written in A minor, but Nishimura chose C minor as the principal key to make the most of the viola’s open strings.

The duo will also perform “Bordello 1900,” “Café 1930” and “Nightclub 1960” from “History of Tango,” a fan favorite by tango composer Piazzolla. The piece attempts to convey the history and evolution of the tango in four movements. Originally composed for flute and guitar in 1985, the piece has been performed with different combinations, including violin or double bass substituted for the flute, and also harp or marimba substituted for the guitar.

Shen, born in 1997, won first prize in the 11th Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition at 15, and was the youngest winner ever. She has frequently performed at festivals worldwide, including the Verbier Festival in Switzerland and the Kronberg Academy Festival in Germany and collaborated with established musicians such as conductor Christoph Eschenbach, violinist Gidon Kremer, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist András Schiff, among others.

Time: 7:30 p.m., March 8

Tickets: 80-380 yuan

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall, Futian District (深圳音乐厅)

Metro: Line 3 or 4 to Children’s Palace Station (少年宫站), Exit D