Young pianist draws inspiration from Rachmaninoff

Chinese-Canadian pianist Zhang Haotian plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 III at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

In 1897, Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No.1 in D Minor was poorly received at its premier in St. Petersburg. The critical failure, as well as his relationship problems, made the composer doubt himself.

Over the following three years, Rachmaninoff wrote little or no music and fell into deep depression.

However, assisted by psychiatrist, Nikolay Dahl, his family and friends, the composer made a comeback with his Piano Concerto No. 2, which he dedicated to Dahl.

Rachmaninoff performed it in 1900 and 1901 where he played as soloist.

“This piece was a special one for the composer, and is one of my favorites,” says Chinese-Canadian pianist Zhang Haotian in Beijing.

On Dec 17, he will play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 III. Allegro scherzando, along with Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of British conductor James Judd, at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

It will be the first collaboration between the 24-year-old pianist and the orchestra, whose history goes back to 1701.

“I sent a concerto list to the conductor to discuss which one we were going to perform and I am glad that he chose this piece,” says Zhang, adding that he once performed the piece at the Lincoln Center when he was 16 during a school competition by Mannes College of Music, where he studied from 2008 to 2013.

Separately, at the end of December, the pianist will give a solo recital at Steinway Hall in Beijing.

The pianist, who was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, migrated to Canada with his family when he was 7.

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