15-year-old American pianist and composer Conrad Tao was found playing children’s songs on the piano at 18 months of age and has never looked back. Born in Urbana, Illinois, Conrad started formal piano lessons at 3, gave his first public piano recital at age 4, and performed a recital at the World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Orlando, Florida at age 7. He made his concerto debut at age 8, was featured on the national radio program “From the Top” as pianist and composer at age 10, and on PBS’s “From the Top—Live from Carnegie Hall” TV series as violinist, pianist and composer two years later.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Piano Trio I
Performed by the Lincoln Trio
Love is the constant enigma.
I aim to search the endless possibilities and risks that love entails. Love, that huge concept, that bombastic idea that countless books and films pound into our heads – I have tried to capture some of it in my piano trio.
The first movement, “Desire”, is an optimistic affair that celebrates the joy and high that comes with a newfound infatuation. With that comes a hunger for the unfamiliar, a desire to explore new territory. A soaring violin passage in the opening bars feels incomplete and waits for a response, but that response never comes. Instead, a torrent of new ideas and thoughts pour in – occasionally the theme can be heard through the waves but before long it succumbs to the power of this rushing flow of passion. It doesn’t search for a logical answer, instead choosing to lose itself in the inexplicable power of young love. The movement ends in ecstasy, a sudden rush culminating in a shrill violin harmonic.
Piano Trio II
Performed by the Lincoln Trio.
And then comes the afterwards. Love’s quiet side comes to the fore. Tiny sparks of bliss replace fires of passion, the throbbing rhythms of infatuation replaced by pulsating shimmers that are barely audible. The piano plays “like a celesta in the night” with soft bells underneath as the violin serenades quietly.
The warmth of the day disappears. Eventide is cold. And yet, silent excitement infuses the night with warmth. After embracing this comfort for a brief moment, the piano begins an ambient rhythmic blanket, upon which the strings interchange soaring melodies, intertwining and just missing each other, until they meet – joined as one for a moment. The opening material returns, but now the love has nearly frozen. Everything has faded into sleep.
The bells, now in the distance, ring eight last times. All is silent.