We went to an astonishing concert: the performers were advertised as "The Cheng2 Duo"–—their names being Silvie and Bryan Cheng. The pianist Silvie has already performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and has appeared in concert with Angela Hewitt. Silvie's 'cellist brother Bryan is also due to appear at the Carnegie Hall—this weekend, playing a ¾-sized 'cello because he has not yet grown tall enough for a full sized one. His sister will be on stage again as his accompanist. Needless to say, the Cheng family was very excited about the event, and the concert we heard at a private house in Ottawa was a practice for their New York performance. We were sitting close enough to touch Bryan's 'cello, had we wanted to.
George knew the first piece, Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, and reminded me I used to play the piano part for him to try out the slow movement on the 'cello in the old days. I do remember that 5-note descending run, I must say, absolutely gorgeous music.
Is Schubert suitable for the very young? I can't help feeling that the more experience of life, love and other mysteries you have had, the better you will know on which phrases to linger and which notes to emphasize, but perhaps I'm wrong. It's wrong to underestimate the capabilities of people who can't quite be classed as adults yet, that I do know. I have a sneaking suspicion that children and teenagers are equal to anything an adult can achieve.
We came home talking of the adolescent Yehudi Menuhin playing Elgar's violin concerto and other such prodigious feats. Bryan may be young, but when he's playing, already looks and sounds like a professional. We were glad to see that he wasn't prematurely aged, though, in spite of his extraordinary accomplishments. At the end of one virtuoso item on the programme, Bringing the Tiger down from the Mountain (by Chinese-Canadian composer Alexina Louie), Bryan, pretending to be the tiger, had leapt out at Chris (facing him in the front seats) with a roar. To the young man's delight Chris had jumped out of his seat, laughing and applauding.
The full programme was as follows:
Schubert: Sonata in A minor for Cello and Piano
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 59 in E-flat
Paganini: Variations on One String on a theme of Rossini
Louie: Bringing the Tiger down from the Mountain II
Schumann: Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor
Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme
Encore: an arrangement of the Starwars theme, this piece played on a "big 'cello" that Bryan was trying out for size!