September 28, 2009 – 3:57 am

Time to roll out the classics. Here’s a 15-year-old American prodigy.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Ravinia Festival 2009 [no label, 2CD]

Live at Martin Theater, Highland Park, IL, USA, July 6, 2009. An excellent FM stereo recording, some hiss and pops.

Conrad Tao was not born in New York city, Los Angeles or Boston, the cultural centers of America but in Urbana, Illinois. The story goes that he was “found playing children’s songs on the piano at about 18 months of age”. Like all gifted children, Tao was paraded on national news networks thereafter. Tao currently resides in New York city and studies music at Juilliard.

His string of achievements is not to be scoffed at. He gave his first public piano recital at age 4 and was recognised as a prodigy at age 7 when he performed at the World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Orlando, Florida. Tao is not just a gifted piano player. He is also a gifted composer and equally versatile with the violin. He already has one recorded work, a live recording from July of last year.

His compositions have been judged by his peers to be outstanding. According to his press blurb: “At age 10, his piano composition ‘Silhouettes and Shadows’ won the BMI Carlos Surinach prize as the youngest winner of BMI’s prestigious award for young composers in the Western Hemisphere. Conrad is a winner of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards and his ‘Sonata for two pianos’ was featured at the 2004 award ceremony. He has given two composition recitals in New York City featuring 11 of his original compositions.”

This performance from two months ago showed Tao’s mettle - a technically proficient player with good taste. The concert opened with a modern piece by Australian composer Carl Vine. It’s an avant garde-like piano sonata which hides the melody behind the fireworks and builds and builds to an explosive conclusion. Played with understanding, Tao shows his maturity. Then comes Beethoven’s Appassionata, in a sense Vine’s piece is its parallel. The Appassionata as the title avers is Beethoven’s “tempestuous” piano piece, the first movement driven and forceful as it later reveals its tragedy.

The other chosen works, Chopin, Debussy and Samuel Barber, all display joy and bombast, a frenzy of trills and drama.

The final performance of the evening was Rachmaninov’s Liebeslied as arranged by violinist Fritz Kreisler with Tao dedicating it to his violin teacher Desiree Ruhstrat, who had introduced him to the music of Kreisler. From the stage, Tao said he was once in a string ensemble called “Conrad and the Kreisler-ettes.” “I was the only boy,” he added.

In other countries you don’t want to be different. You prefer to hide among the flock because to be non-conformist is to attract undue attention.

Thanks to mdshrk1 for sharing this FM broadcast.
- Professor Red

Note: These tracks are no longer available for download. (See note below)

Disc 1
Track 101. Announcer 3:05
Track 102. Vine: Piano Sonata No. 1 MM 9:07
Track 103. Leggiero e legato 8:34
Track 104. Announcer 0:31
Track 105. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 (”Appassionata”) Allegro assai 9:32
Track 106. Andante con moto 5:55
Track 107. Allegro ma non troppo - Presto 7:46
Track 108. Announcer 1:06
Track 109. Chopin: Andante spianato 5:02
Track 110. Grande Polonaise, Op. 22 9:55
Track 111. Announcer 0:33
Track 112. Debussy: L’isle joyeuse, Op. 26 6:21

Disc 2
Track 201. Announcer 0:47
Track 202. Barber: Sonata Op. 26 Allegro energico 2:05
Track 203. Allegro vivace 6:49
Track 204. Adagion mesto 5:07
Track 205. Fuga 4:34
Track 206. Announcer 0:54
Track 207. Kreisler/Rachmaninov: Liebeslied 4:30

Total Time: 92:09m

Recorded when he was 14 years old, Conrad Tao’s Live From Verbier has pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, John Corigliano and Franz Liszt. Tao’s own composition, Fantasy Sonata, is also here. Buy it here.

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I am contacting you per Conrad Tao’s management. Please remove the Conrad Tao recordings/downloads from your website.

Nick Pullia
Director of Communications

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  2. Here’s another prodigy

    By gene on Oct 5, 2009

  3. Hey Gene - right on! What a delightful find!

    By lowendbill on Oct 5, 2009

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