top of page

Junyan Chen (Piano)

24 Jun 2023

JS Bach: French Suite No 3*
Beethoven: Piano Sonata op 101  
Liszt: Funérailles*
Liszt: Piano Sonata

Junyan Chen is a young Chinese pianist who recently graduated with a 1st class B Mus degree followed by further study as the Bicentenary Scholar at the Royal Academy. She has been the winner of several international piano competitions and has recently released her debut solo album.

*Excitingly, shortly after her performance in Wallingford, Junyan leaves for Australia to compete in the Sydney International Piano Competition. Held every four years, 32 of the world’s finest young pianists will compete in July for this prestigious accolade, and we are delighted to be supporting Junyan’s preparations by agreeing the highlighted changes to the original programme.

She opens her recital with the third of J S Bach’s six French Suites, written in the 1720s, probably as teaching material for his family and other students.  The six brief movements (more Italian influenced than French) are highly contrasted and follow the usual pattern of courtly dances, filtered through Bach’s incomparable imagination. We follow this with Beethoven, who studied and played JS Bach as a young concert pianist. In the works of his late period Beethoven returned to the contrapuntal world of Bach and the A major sonata, the first of these works (like several of its fellows) features an energetic and technically challenging fugue. As well as looking back, this fascinating work also seems to offer a visionary preview of the expressive world of Schumann.

After the interval, the music of Liszt described as “all sunshine and dazzling splendour” presents a complete contrast to the intimate and introspective late-period Beethoven.  Junyan starts by playing Funérailles: written in 1840, this piece commemorates the suppression of the Hungarian uprising by Hapsburg forces the previous year and is a powerful, elegiac work, moving from funeral darkness to martial valour before a subdued conclusion. This serves as an introduction to Liszt’s only piano sonata written in 1852; a colossal work in one continuous movement that was hugely influential on composers such as Wagner, Franck and Debussy and remains a significant corner-stone of the repertoire.

bottom of page