Thursday, April 28, 2011

Le Grand Tango - Peng Diao

How many musicians in the world do a Charlie Chaplin entrance on stage? How many musicians in the world play Piazzolla on a dizi? And, how many of those would play Le Grand Tango? Today's video provides the answer and the answer is one and his name is Peng Diao.

Peng Diao has appeared before in this blog playing Nightclub 1960. The focus of that blog was on the Chinese folk flute known as a dizi. It is, after all, not a big stretch to go from a Boehm flute to a dizi on a piece composed for flute. The playing was competent but it was the dizi that attracted me. But it was the music that attracted me to today's video. Mr. Diao is not only a showman (see hair, white gloves and greasepaint mustache), he is also a remarkably talented musician. His interpretation is excellent. His technique is flawless. He plays with flair and feeling. And, remarkably, he plays the entire piece - ten minutes of music - without a score. I have watched many musicians play Le Grand Tango on YouTube and I do not recall ever seeing another one play the work from memory. I believe this is a recital performance at the National Taiwan University of Arts and Peng Diao's able accompanist is Yixin Wang but Google Translate is of limited assistance here.

The choice of flute for Le Grand Tango is unusual but not unknown. A commercial arrangement by Reiko Clement is available for flute and guitar - I am guessing that this is the Clement flute part and Piazzolla's original piano part combined. I believe this is the first time a flute version of the work has appeared on YouTube and I am surprised how well it works. The work was originally composed for Mstislav Rostropovich to be played on cello with piano accompaniment. You can read background on the work and hear Rostropovich play the work in this earlier blog posting.

Peng Diao is a remarkable young musician - the Yo-Yo Ma of the dizi. If his video does not appear below, click here. If you find his showmanship interesting, take a look at this.

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