Elegant, poised and deeply musical Ran Jia has brought a new freshness to the Franz Schubert piano sonatas, a phenomenal achievement considering how often they have been performed by the greatest pianists of the past 75 years. The press in Germany, where she played all eleven works in a four-day marathon last spring, christened her “the challenger” against Daniel Barenboim, who was scheduled to appear in Berlin a few weeks later.
Ms. Jia rejects such talk of competitive striving. “My dream is simple,” she told me in an interview, “to share my musical inspiration deep down in my heart with the audience …” To her, Schubert’s music “dances between our world and heaven”.
Her self-deprecating persona comes as a welcome change in the face of the flamboyance of other young Asian players seeking to distinguish themselves through hair-styles or piano-bench paroxysms.
She may well be the next Chinese superstar, a versatile player who thoroughly understands her music and performs it for us without the distracting excesses of Lang Lang and Yuja Wang, among others.
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