Moved by movie music

Classical pianist Jenny Lin says she loves movie soundtracks, especially Cinema Paradiso's

To keep the audience's interest, pianist Jenny Lin always makes sure her programme consists of two very different parts.
To keep the audience's interest, pianist Jenny Lin always makes sure her programme consists of two very different parts.PHOTO: LIZ LINDER

According to Taiwan-born American classical pianist Jenny Lin, a movie is nothing without its soundtrack.

The 41-year-old film buff tells Life! over the telephone from New York, where she resides: "A good movie always needs to have good music. One without the other is very difficult."

Although she has recorded almost 20 classical albums, she says that if she had a choice, she would love to play on the soundtrack of Cinema Paradiso, a 1988 film about a young man's friendship with a cinema projectionist.

"I absolutely love that soundtrack, you can play it on the piano very well, it's a really beautiful one," she says.

Classical is what she will be playing, however, when she performs at the Esplanade Recital Studio next Friday. It will be her first solo concert in Singapore, and she will be playing a selection of pieces mostly from 19th-century European composers such as Shostakovich, Debussy, Chopin and Stravinsky.

Lin, who has also played at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York, says: "The programme is in two sections, and they are very different from each other. I always like to give two very different halves in my programme because I feel that after the intermission, there's a change in audience concentration."

She says that the first half of her concert will be more "intellectual", and consists of pieces from composers such as Shostakovich and Bach.

"The Prelude and Fugues from Shostakovich and Bach, especially the Fugues, are more cerebral. It's a different type of concentration not just for me but also for the audience," she says.

"Even though the music is very beautiful, it's different if you compare it to the second half, which is more spectacular and has beautiful melodies that you can sing to. That's the less intellectual half, if you like, because you can sit back and listen, and let the music come to you, whereas with the Prelude and Fugues, you have to go to the music."

After the interval, she will play Debussy's popular Clair De Lune and Stravinsky's rousing Firebird Suite.

Lin, who has a degree in German literature from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in the United States, also has an affinity for Russian composers, and three out of the seven whose works she will be playing are from Russia.

"I think I've always loved Russian composers, even as a child. I love the culture, and I love everything Russian, the literature and the painters," she says.

"I love it when there are a lot of harmonies and colours, and there are a lot of stories to tell. You feel that in Russian music there's always a story behind it, which makes it, to me, very human."

Lin's piano playing has given her opportunities to travel all over the world and to perform in countries such as China, France, Germany and Spain. She also starred in a documentary called Cooking For Jenny, a 2005 film about her first meeting with Spanish composer Javier Lopez de Guerena and conductor Oliver Diaz, when she flew to Spain to premiere a piano concerto by de Guerena.

She says: "It was a very special experience. I was about to meet this composer for the first time and we come from very different cultures. His English is bad and I don't speak Spanish, but we communicated through food because he loves to cook. Through dinners and cooking, we were able to have wonderful conversations."

Despite Lin's love for cooking though, she has space constraints in her New York apartment.

"I love to cook but I can't cook very well," she laughs. "I live in New York, so my apartment is very small, and my kitchen is very small. Usually, I will make a big pot of pasta sauce, and eat it for many days."