Peter Serkin & Julia Hsu

Saturday, April 4, 2015 · 7:30PM

Program included: Schumann, Bizet, Mozart, Schubert

Originally from Taiwan, Julia Hsu received music scholarships to study at The Purcell School for young musicians at the age of 14. She continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where she completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance. Julia also studied with Matti Raekallio at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik und Theatre,
Germany. Julia has collaborated with conductors Fabio Panisello, Lutz Koeler and cellist Ivan Moniguetti. She was a Festival Fellow at Bowdoin Music Festival, and a scholar at the Banff Centre, Canada before she became a Piano Fellow at Bard College Conservatory of Music in 2013.

The distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin has performed with the world's major symphony orchestras with such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, and Alexander Schneider. A dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Serkin has collaborated with artists such as Pamela Frank and Yo-Yo Ma. An avid exponent of the music of many contemporary composers,
Mr. Serkin has brought to life the music of Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Wolpe, and others for audiences around the world. He has performed many world premieres written specifically for him, in particular, works by Toru Takemitsu, Oliver Knussen, and Peter Lieberson. Mr. Serkin currently teaches at Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Longy School of Music.


Six Études in the form of Canons for Pedal-Piano, Op. 56 - R. Schumann (Arr. G. Bizet)

Nicht zu schnell

Mit innigem Ausdruck



Nicht zu schnell


Three Pieces from Jeux d'Enfants - G. Bizet

Trumpet and Drum—March

Soap Bubbles—Rondino

The Top—Impromptu

Sonata in B major, K.358 - W. A. Mozart

Allegro ma non troppo in a minor (Lebenssturme), D.947 - F. Schubert

Rondo in A major, D.951 - F. Schubert

Five Hungarian Dances - J. Brahms

No. 8 in a minor

No. 9 in e minor

No. 11 in a minor

No. 20 in d minor

No. 18 in D major

Comments from Jess Anderson

How fortunate that the Salon Piano Series could bring pianists Peter Serkin and Julia Hsu to Madison for a really outstanding program of four-hands music. The four-hands repertory is huge, much of it very high quality, but too rarely heard in public concerts.

The program was richly varied, opening and ending with works I'd never heard – Schumann's Six Etudes in the form of Canons for Pedal-Piano, Op. 26, arranged by Bizet, and five of the 21 Hungarian Dances by Brahms, originally written for piano, four-hands.

Also new to me were the Three Pieces from Jeux d'Enfant, by Bizet. Fascinating music indeed.

Between, more familiar four-hand works: Mozart's charming Sonata in B-flat major, K. 358 and two great masterworks by Schubert: the Allegro ma non troppo in A minor (Lebenssturme), D. 947 – a very demanding work indeed, and the delightful Rondo in A Major, D. 951, Schubert's final 4-hand work. This repertory is rarely programmed, so it was a special treat to hear it played live and with such panache.

I hope we'll be able to hear Mr. Serkin and Ms. Hsu again before long. This was really first-rate music-making.

Review by Lana Robotewskyj

The Salon Piano Series at Farley's House of Pianos is nothing short of spectacular. Tim and Renee Farley are the perfect hosts to these intimate musical settings, which honor the past traditions and spirit of the Parisians from the 19th Century. These performances are truly a unique opportunity to hear international artists in a cozy setting, performing on Tim’s very rare 1914 Mason and Hamlin, which Tim has beautifully restored. You may or may not know, Tim has rebuilt my 9 ft Mason and Hamlin and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Last night, I had the honor to not only listen to Peter Serkin and Julia Hsu perform various four-hand pieces (including the likes of Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Bizet, and Schumann), I participated in dialogue with Peter regarding The Hungarian Dances by Brahms afterwards. Hearing the piano sing and dance through cadences of Sturm und Drang and light and sun, simply makes for a lovely evening. Peter and Julia maintained the focus of the audience throughout the course of the night with their elegance and perfect balance of musicianship. Simply put, their playing was exquisite. It is not unusual to meet and speak with the performers after the concerts, as Tim and Renee invite all participants to join in a generous reception of wine and cheese, breads and spreads, and delightful sweets.

The Salon Piano Series brings together a wide variety of people: students, artists, intellectuals, and hobbyists, all of whom have something in common: a passion for piano music and an appreciation for the artists who travel a distance to share. For those of you who know me well, music and food are my two obsessions, and–coupled with a night of quality, like minded souls– you have a perfect evening of utmost contentment. This is the fourth concert I’ve attended, and I can’t say enough about the magical experience I personally witness right here in Madison. One does not need to go to Europe to hear the likes of their masters. They come to Madison.

Review by Don Smith

Madison was fortunate to have an example of an almost lost art this past Saturday when Farley's House of Pianos hosted a recital of music for piano four hands presented by Peter Serkin and Julia Hsu. The delicate interplay of the two performers was brought to the fore in music of Schumann, Bizet, Mozart, Schubert and Brahms. An interesting rarity opened the program: a selection of six Etudes for Pedal Piano of Robert Schumann. The pedal piano in these pieces was far removed from a practice instrument for organists; Schumann treated the listener to true songs without words. The three short Bizet pieces were a gentle bit of pianistic fluff the two players danced through before turning to larger works of Mozart and Schubert. The interplay between the two performers was brought to a climax in the two Schubert pieces which were written in the last year of his life. It was amazing to hear the gentleness of Ms. Hsu's touch on filigree work in both Mozart and Schubert, a sensitivity that was fully supported by Mr. Serkin's strongly presented lower part. To hear the two pianists develop the intricate lines and then dramatically insert fortes of strength as well as sensitivity was surely a highpoint of this listener's experience! Musicologist John Reed writes that this music (Schubert) calls out for orchestral expression. But Ms. Hsu and Mr. Serkin brought from the beautifully restored 1914 Mason & Hamlin a rich yet rarely heard sensitivity. The recital closed with five Hungarian Dances of Brahms that were not some of those usually heard. In all, it was an evening to be treasured and one can only reflect that Bard College is indeed fortunate to have these two wonderful performers on their staff! Let's hope that Farley's can lure Hsu and Serkin back to Madison soon.