ShareThis Page

Pianist Cheng, Westmoreland Symphony conductor Meyer team up in Brahms concert

| Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Pianist Angela Cheng and conductor Daniel Meyer appear to agree with each other about themselves as much as they do about Johannes Brahms.

Meyer, artistic director of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, says Cheng is one of his favorite soloists to work with, while Cheng describes two prior performances with Meyer as a “wonderful musical experience.”

She will perform Brahms' first piano concerto with Meyer and the orchestra on April 13, and they both talk about the work with similar enthusiasm.

“The concerto brings out his poetry, his passion,” Meyer says. “This was an early work for him and I think he wanted it to be something of a calling card. It said what he was all about.”

Cheng agrees, calling the work “one of the great masterpieces of the piano repertoire. It is symphonic in its scope and demands a wide spectrum of emotions from the pianist.”

The concert also will include a work Meyer believes fits well with the sweep of the Brahms concerto: the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar. He says that work is a study of “intimacy in the face of grandeur” in how the 14 variations of a theme build to a powerful conclusion, much like a Brahms' statement.

In a sense, Meyer says, the work is a piece that reflects the thinking that a “sum is greater that the whole of its parts.” But yet each variation is a good orchestral achievement on its own, fitting in with the scope of the Brahms work.

Meyer worked with Cheng at both the Erie and Asheville symphony orchestras, two other ensembles where he is artistic director, and says he enjoys the way she “makes the whole experience go” in understanding “her role as a collaborator.”

Describing her as a “musician with something to say,” he says her talent equals her perception of the music, making her interpretive decisions strong and logical.

Born in Hong Kong, Cheng grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and Indiana University in Bloomington, where she studied with the great Menahem Pressler.

She has performed around the world and made her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2012. She also teaches at Oberlin University in Ohio.

Just before the trip here, she toured China and Japan with the Pinchas Zukerman Chamber Players.

In an email exchange from China, Cheng says she is happy once again to perform with Meyer, especially doing Brahms first, which is “one of those pieces that I feel very close to and I've played it often over the years.”

That concerto is one of the works, like Ludwig van Beethoven's fourth concerto, that she keeps ready to perform. Like most soloists, she keeps a number of works ready “because of their great beauty and their spiritual quality.”

She says the “dramatic character of the first movement, the serene quality of the second movement and the gypsy dance-like spirit of the last movement, all work together to produce a fulfilling and satisfying journey for both the performers and audience.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.