Zhang’s muse is ostensibly a lyric one, although a slightly mischievous sense of playfulness is never far away...one might well ask what we’ve done to deserve yet another brilliant collaboration in the Beethoven concertos. Yet Zhang/Stutzmann/Philadelphia is precisely that, and I urge you to not miss it.
This is an artist whose preternatural virtuosity ever serves as a means to an end, that of creating vivid, expressive, colorful musical ideas... In 2022 we have a sizable number of pianists with seemingly preternatural techniques and good musical instincts, but Haochen Zhang has something more: a rare gift for painting scenes in music, creating visions and telling stories. His technique is likely second to none, but his true distinction is his ability to use it in communicating his extra-musical ideas to listeners.
A decade after winning the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Zhang continues to electrify. He infuses this pair of well-worn concert hall staples with sorely needed vitality and wit.
Sublime... Zhang blended so seamlessly with the orchestra that this became a perfect thesis of chamber music.
Zhang probed the work — and his personal responses to it — at every turn with a Chopin-esque detail and sensitivity. The give and take between him, Nézet-Séguin and the orchestra was beyond anything I’ve heard in this piece, creating a flowing ocean of music. Though Zhang’s command of the keyboard allows him to hit all of the necessary peaks, he’s more remarkable for projecting heroic intimacy. He also knows how to create tension with silence.
Here is an artist of rare talent...
It is Zhang's articulation and phrasing, precision and power that merit the highest praise...
He is a musician of extraordinary technical mastery and perception...
Haochen Zhang’s Liszt proved both musical and highly virtuosic. The grand fortissimi were powerful and the more introverted moments properly subdued. Even at the loudest bars, he maintained a warm, pleasing tone.
Mr. Zhang closed the program with Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7, a bright, virtuosic work, which enabled him to go out in a blaze of technical display, but not without musical substance.