Chinese pianist Niu Niu has announced he will release his new album Fate & Hope on 7 May 2021. The recording features Liszt’s extraordinary solo piano transcription of Beethoven’s epic Fifth Symphony, digitally released today, Beethoven’s ‘Pathétique’ and ‘Moonlight’ sonatas and Niu Niu’s debut composition Hope.
“The theme of my album is fate and hope”
“The theme of my album is fate and hope,” explained Niu Niu. “Obviously Hope is the title of my debut composition that I have placed at the end of this album but in the symphony alone, playing through the four movements, I also felt that progress of fate and ending with hope. It’s about finally arriving somewhere that you feel satisfied, fulfilled and relieved. I think this symphony gives us a lot of soothing in our hearts – and, actually, Beethoven’s music overall is really what we need during this time.”
“Fate knocking at the door”
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is not only indisputably one of the greatest symphonies ever written but has probably the most recognisable opening of any piece of classical music, which the composer allegedly described as “fate knocking at the door”.
Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is rarely heard but Niu Niu is full of admiration for the way in which the full sonority of the orchestra has been captured in the arrangement. “The spirit and energy really squeeze out all the possibilities the piano can give. The transcendental quality of the great amount of musical liberty allowed in this piano transcription also brings a unique brilliance, the kind of brilliance that is not only characteristic of Liszt but also of Beethoven. We cannot forget that Beethoven was a brilliant pianist and I often imagine that if he had the ability to play his symphony, he would play it this way, in Liszt’s arrangement.”
Beethoven’s ‘Pathétique’ and ‘Moonlight’ sonatas are also featured on Fate & Hope. Niu Niu noted, “The way I hear many people play the first movement of the ‘Moonlight’ is rather sentimental and romantic, but I think there is a kind of darkness to it that often could be missing if you are too immersed in the sentimental.”
“His energy, his legacy and his spirit always will live in us”
Niu Niu has also included his own composition Hope at the end of his new album. He explained, “As a young musician more than 200 years after Beethoven, I am trying to convey the idea that his energy, his legacy and his spirit always will live in us. It is really paying a tribute to Beethoven, just as I felt Liszt wrote his transcription of the Fifth Symphony as a tribute to Beethoven.”
Chinese pianist Niu Niu was born into a musical family in 1997. At age eight he became the youngest student ever to enrol at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and in 2014 he was accepted into New York’s Juilliard School, on a full scholarship, and graduated in 2018. At age nine he was the youngest pianist ever to sign to EMI Classics and his debut album, Niu Niu Plays Mozart, was certified Gold.
The first single from Niu Niu’s new album Fate & Hope, Liszt’s solo piano transcription of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, has been digitally released.