REVIEW: Works by Lei Liang and Pierre Jalbert make triumphant premieres at SummerFest

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 17, 2018

Over his 18 years as director of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin has brought important composers to La Jolla and has discerningly commissioned new works for the festival.

Tuesday evening, on a program featuring Turina, Debussy, Mahler and Ginastera, Lin’s most recent commission was happily premiered: “Vis-à-vis” for percussionist Steven Schick and Wu Man, a virtuoso on the pipa (China’s version of the lute). It was composed by UC San Diego professor Lei Liang.

On the stage at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, Wu Man and Schick were separated by 7 or 8 feet, a bit puzzling for a work whose title means “Face-to-face.” Wu Man began alone with an arresting, tart chord that slowly accelerated into a dramatic cut-off. Schick answered this with a loud cascade of notes. The musical back-and-forth that ensued made clear that the title referred more to a metaphorical conversation than physical proximity.