by Mike Telin
If you are familiar with the Pipa — a Chinese lute-like instrument with a history that dates back more than 2,000 years — chances are that you first heard it played by Wu Man.
On February 25 in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, the world’s premiere pipa virtuoso joined the Verona Quartet — Jonathan and Dorothy Ro (violins), Abigail Rojansky (viola), and Jonathan Dormand (cello) — for a program that traveled the musical globe to explore the question, What is home? The concert was presented as part of the Oberlin Artist Recital Series.
Throughout the evening, the large audience was treated to a musical collaboration that never felt forced. As always, Wu Man’s innate sense of musicality proved that great virtuosity is not always about fast technical passages, it can also be found in the nuances of serenity. And the Verona, Oberlin’s Quartet-in-Residence, were unified partners, producing musically intelligent and technically flawless playing that seamlessly moved in and out of a spectrum of colors and stylistic emotions.