Shirley Guo ’11 and Brandon Lam ’11

The grand opening of a majestic C minor chord quickly captured the audience’s attention at the Senior Recital featuring Shirley Guo ’11 and Brandon Lam ’11 last Saturday in Timken Room. This enchanting piece, the “Sinfonia” of Bach’s “Partita No. 2, BWV 826,” served as the opening to the Senior Recital. Composed of three sections, the piece took the audience on a trip through different, quickening tempi. The grave, stately beginning soon lent itself to a melancholy andante. Accompanied by Guo’s steady eighth notes in the left hand, her wandering right hand melody floated high above. Guo’s deliberate use and placement of offbeats lent an air of desperation and urgency even in the slow section. The andante soon became a fugue in allegro, fast tempo. The mix of the same theme in different speeds produced an air of beauty within the busy activity that took place. On the viola, Lam followed Guo’s first piece with the second suite of the “Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1008.” The three sections he presented included the prelude, allemande and courante, all of which displayed differing moods. The three first notes, which merely traced the initial position of the D minor chord, sounded like a wave that was getting nearer and nearer to the audience. Contrastingly, the allemande portrayed a heavy, serious dance and the courante was a light-footed, quick piece. Kevin Song ’11 said, “The many different tempo changes and musical changes made the piece a very interesting one.” Lam followed the Bach with the first movement of the “Viola Sonata” by Mikhail Glinka, a Romantic piece by an early Russian composer. Lam said, “I liked the Glinka. It’s a Romantic-style music and I just like being able to express.” Kerstin Brolsma ’11 said, “I think that Brandon had a wonderful presence on the stage and I think he brought a lot of musicality to the pieces he was playing.” After the melancholy Glinka, the rest of the recital was handed to Guo. Guo’s last pieces included the Rachmaninoff “Prelude Op. 23, No. 6” and the “Aufschwung” of Schumann’s “Fantasiestucke.” Both became audience favorites. Guo’s favourite piece was the Aufschwung. She said, “[The Aufschwung] was very different from the other pieces, very expressive, full of energy and really nice piece to put on the program list. Schumann always does cool things with his music. I really liked how he never follows the downbeat because he’s always on the offbeat.” On the other hand, the Rachmaninoff also received praise for its rich yet delicate harmony. Brolsma said, “I really liked the [Rachmaninoff] the best because it was short but had a beautiful melody line that [Guo] played wonderfully.” For both musicians, this recital was one of their last times performing at Phillips Academy. Lam said, “To play in front a lot of people is exciting because I can get to make the music expressive for everyone to enjoy.” “[Senior Recital] is not just about learning new pieces but going back to pieces that you’ve already played, mastered and finished playing,” said Guo. For all the audience members in Timken that night, the music pieces from Lam and Guo’s past were a savory delight to enjoy.