Winning a prestigious competition is extremely challenging. Maintaining the level of success after the winning glory and keeping the quality of performance high at all times to meet audience expectations is also a continuous challenge. Almost two years after winning the title BBC Young Musician of the Year 2018, teenage sensation Lauren Zhang proved that she certainly wasn’t a ‘one-off’ prize winner. She brought an intense programme which included one of Beethoven’s late Sonatas and Rachnaninov’s Sonatas. She gave a powerful, fulfilling and compelling performance, and thrilled the audience.
There were many points which were very impressive about Lauren’s playing. Her long, insightful phrasing was a beauty, particularly in the Beethoven’s Sonata. Her sound-making created varieties of tones, from dynamic and explosive chords to a subtle tickling.
Lauren’s near-perfect playing (no mistouches, no lapses!) was convincing; she has a steely will, strong belief and ability to pull it off with her magnificent technique. This was particularly apparent in the second half, where she played the Rachmaninov with dignity yet such acute attention to detail. Ravel’s La Valse had a vigour, rupture and power, but above all these, I think Lauren brought out the unmissable expression of the waltz.
Throughout the concert, I couldn’t help noticing her excellent understanding of the pieces – it seems she had copied and absorbed all the scores within herself, processed them and projected them all with a full precision and her own interpretation. She had a focus which nothing could break.
Lauren has everything to make us believe that she will ripen and mature into a performer who can take her performing career onto the world stage.