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Sheng Cai – ‘Old warhorse’ a stallion in young hands

‘Old warhorse’ a stallion in young hands

October 3, 2011

By Mike Youds

Daily News Staff Reporter
A brilliant young pianist, a soothing string-orchestra interlude and a sweeping symphonic outpouring rewarded a Kamloops Symphony audience Saturday.

Edvard Grieg’s Concerto for Piano Op. 16 in A Minor is considered a staple among pianists, often described as an old “warhorse” along the  lines of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Sheng Cai, a Shanghai-born Canadian pianist gave it a fresh sparkle, his hands seeming to float effortlessly over the keys in quieter moments, his whole body quaking with force during strident parts.

Seldom do guest performers step outside of the program, but Cai wasn’t shy as he bowed to a standing ovation.

“Well, why not?” he said affably before sitting back down to play an encore.

He was tempted to perform a Lizst rhapsody to punctuate the concerto, but felt it was better to contrast the mood of the concerto with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s sombre Elegie in E-flat minor.

Over the past 10 years, the KSO has on several occasions returned to the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Performances included that of his best-known work, Finlandia (2001), Swan of Tuonela (2008), and symphonies No. 3 and No. 6 in the last couple of seasons.