* Rich and colourful sound of a Bösendorfer Imperial 290 * Recorded in the Tibor Varga Foundation Studio in Switzerland * Made & Printed in Germany * 'Favorite CD' (Coup de coeur du disquaire) of Le Ménestrel, the historic record store of Geneva, as per it's recommendation appeared in the Geneva Tribune on Jan 9, 2009. ___________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ LATEST EVENTS Nov 15-22, 2010 - 7-concert Migros Culture Percentage Classics Tour with Shanghai Philharmonic in the top concert halls in Switzerland, Bratislava and Budapest. ***** Oct 14, 2010 Chopin Concerto No.2 with Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Métropôle Hall Lausanne. Broadcast on Swiss French Radio - Espace 2 on Oct 26, 2010 as well as on Swiss French TV on Dec 27, 2010 and Jan 4, 2011. A reportage of 50' with interviews of Mélodie Zhao and the Orchestra was show on TSR2. ***** March 2, 2010 - Victoria Hall Geneva, Switzerland. Recital of all 27 of Chopin's Etudes, to celebrate his 200th birthday. ***** October 18, 2009 On Radio Suisse Romande's Espace 2 Station, Mélodie Zhao gave a live piano recital on the two-hour 'La Tribune des Jeunes Musiciens' program. ***** August 30, 2009, Jinan, Shandong Province, China. Mélodie Zhao's piano recital earned enthusiastic response from the audience and very positive press review. ***** June 21, 2009, live recital on Espace 2 channel of the Swiss French Radio. ***** In April 2009, the Music Faculty of the Petroleum University of China in Dongying, Shandong Province invited Mélodie Zhao to give a seminar and master-class. Following the successful event, she is engaged as a guest professor of the University. ___________________________________________________________ THE STORY of this CD The 24 Caprices of Paganini are considered as the summit of the art of violin playing; in the same way, the 24 Etudes of Chopin are considered as the acme of piano performance. In April 2006, whilst giving a master class in Switzerland, the eminent violin professor Yaoji Lin discovered Mélodie Zhao, then aged 11. Impressed by her marvellous execution on the piano, he affirmed, "Whether in terms of ability or musicality, Mélodie is absolutely a remarkable talent." At the same time, he handed a gift to her: a CD of Paganini's 24 Caprices recorded by one of his students, Tianwa Yang, when she was 13. He encouraged Mélodie to record Chopin's 24 Etudes also at the age of 13, convinced that she would be capable of realizing such a project, unique for anyone so young. Tianwa Yang's CD was an inspiration for Mélodie as proof that the art of music and the zenith of interpretation are not only for adults, but can also be mastered by teenagers who pursue the ideal of musical perfection. During 2006, Mélodie somewhat extended her repertoire with baroque, classic, romantic, impressionist and contemporary works. In parallel, guided by her violin teacher father, Mélodie added to her muscular training regime with The Pianist Virtuoso in 60 Exercises by Hanon, amongst others. This led to a rapid progress in her technical capacity and laid a solid foundation for her to master the 24 Etudes relatively quickly. In January 2007, Mélodie started to work systematically on the 12 Etudes op.10 of Chopin, in addition to and without hindering her normal studies at the Geneva Conservatory. By the end of June, she had already mastered the 12 etudes. In July, she attended a thorough master class on op.10 with Jean-Jacques Balet. Mid-August 2007, at 12 years old, Mélodie Zhao included the 12 Etudes op.10 in her recital program in the Festival Les Sommets du Classique in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and played them again in her Easter recital the following year. Starting in February 2008, Mélodie began to work on op.25 under the instruction of Pascal Devoyon. By May, she was proficient in all 12 etudes. During these months, Prof. Devoyon provided many very detailed and enlivening lessons on each of the 24 Etudes, which allowed Melodie to make radical and substantial further progress in technique as well as in musicality. On the 29th June 2008, she gave a recital of Chopin's 24 Etudes in the Kammersaal at the Berlin University of Arts, organized by Prof. Devoyon. The recording of this CD, realized by award-winning sound engineer Jean-Claude Gaberel, has taken 18 hours over 3 days, from the 22nd to the 24th July 2008, at the Studio Tibor Varga in the Valais, Switzerland. The commentary in the booklet is written in French by Mélodie Zhao herself. It is an exercise based on her profound study of the two opus. She combines her personal experiences with her own point of view on the Chopin etudes, whilst recording concisely their musical essence and the main technical problems posed in these works. Chopin's 24 Etudes performed and analysed by a 13-year-old - this is by it's very nature significant. "It is not my intention to create a miracle" Mélodie Zhao said. "I would simply like to show how these studies can be played and put into words by a teenager." One has to say that she has succeeded. Ying Wu (N.B. The writer is pianist, professor and the Dean of Piano Faculty of the Central Conservatory of Music of China) Translated from Chinese by Howe Yin Zhao Proofread by Christopher Watts ___________________________________________________________________ EXTRACT of the COMMENTARY on the Etudes by Mélodie Zhao Frederick Chopin - 24 Etudes Chopin composed his two series of etudes op.10 and op.25 between 1829 and 1836, during his first prolific creative period. Every one of these 24 etudes deals with one or several technical difficulties, but it is widely recognised that Chopin's etudes not only include a large range of pianistic virtuosity, but they are all endowed with a poetry, natural, delicate and lyrical at the same time. Etudes op.10 Nr. 1, C Major (Allegro) Autumn 1830 This majestic opening piece aims to stretch the right hand in a relaxed fashion with large broken chords covering the whole keyboard. The left hand supports and completes the harmonies of the right hand with long octaves built of a chorus harmony. According to Chopin, the only way to achieve a good execution of this etude is through slow and sustained exercises of the arpeggio. However, one must bear in mind that slow exercise is merely for practice, while the aim is to achieve a clear and fast technique with a perfectly flowing musical result. Attention should be paid to the rapid positioning of the fingers preparing the connection of each note, and to the ascending and descending movements of the arpeggios which should create the impression, to both the pianist and the listener, of "rising and falling". Nr. 2, A minor (Allegro) 1830 Also called "Chromatic" and considered by many pianists as the most difficult one of all Chopin's etudes, it aims to strengthen the three weak fingers (3-4-5) of the right hand through sempre legato and overlapping scales as well as ascending and descending chromatic phrasings, which run across the whole keyboard without using the thumb and the forefinger. The difficulty here is to play all the notes in a light, equal fashion and in particular with an even tempo. But, being careful, for the hands must stay relaxed during the exercise, and one should not work on it for too long each day or injury can be the result! Nr. 9, F minor (Allegro molto agitato) 1829 One day my professor, Pascal Devoyon, told me a story which could well have inspired Chopin when he created this piece : "A couple had to swim across a strait in the darkness in a terrifying storm, in fear of being engulfed. In the fight against the waves, the wind and the lightning, the young man disappeared in the act of saving his beloved." Thus the short undulations of the left hand, working at full stretch, depict the rough sea caused by the wind and the storm; the 'breathless' syncopations and the violent dynamic contrasts of the right hand convey the breathlessness of the two swimmers fighting against the cruelty of such natural beauty. This image, illustrating the real spirit that unfolds in this piece, has served me well in finding a suitable musical interpretation. Etudes op. 25 Nr. 3, F Major (Allegro) 1836 This is a "test" of the polyphonic independence of both hands which follow simultaneously a double counterpoint movement. The lightness in this etude - not so easy to achieve - is the only way to show it's "joyful" temperament that does not diminish even in the forte passages. To achieve this, tense finger movements have to be avoided and, to the contrary, the arms must be well relaxed down to the tips of the fingers, with particular attention to the fluidity of the wrists. This lightness is not at all contradictory to what Schumann has said: "Here, above all, one needs bravura, but a rather polite bravura, and for this Chopin deserves a great deal of praise." Nr. 6, G sharp minor (Allegro) 1832-1834 Here, again, is another of Chopin's own inventions, which consists of the practice of tied thirds by the right hand over long scales, principally chromatic and in very uncomfortable tonalities. Until then, no-one had dared to write such a piece, so technically difficult as to make playing it practically impossible. With the undulating accompaniment of the left hand, the right hand must achieve perfect fluidity, like a "winter breeze". There is only one truly efficient way to achieve this, and that is to start slowly, increasing the tempo gradually with the help of a metronome until the indicated tempo is reached. Nr. 7, C sharp minor (Lento) early 1836 Here is the ultimate study of sound control, where countless musical phrases by both hands criss-cross incessantly, and which, when they come together, transform into a long flow of nostalgic dreams. Composed in a truly dramatic spirit, this, the only slow etude of the second cycle op.25, is referred to as "to the cello", so called because of the long bass thread that joins the first note to the last chord of the study and imitates the sound of that instrument. Furthermore, this bass line gives a "singing" character that speaks of the bel canto style, for which Chopin was very influenced by one of it's masters, Vincenzo Bellini. Our "Poet of the Piano" admired Bellini so much that he asked to be buried by the side of the Italian composer. Mélodie Zhao Switzerland - Summer 2008 Translated from French by Howe Yin Zhao Proofread by Christopher Watts.