What does the phrase ‘music has no language barriers’ mean? It has multiple meanings in the cultural context, the foremost of which is that the primary purpose of any form of art is to communicate to an audience feelings or emotions formed in a certain temporal setting. But, they say, western classical music is acquired taste.
Well, the spellbinding performance that the pianist, Fatjona Maliqi, from Kosovo gave at the German Consulate on Sunday evening could have converted someone with no ear for music into a music aficionado in no time. She was super impressive.
Two things need to be mentioned here. One, Maliqi is young; she is in her twenties; two, she was scheduled to play the Goldberg Variations (named after the likely first performer of the work) by none other than the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach written in the former half of the 18th century.
A young woman asked to play no fewer than 30 extremely difficult and astounding variations created by the late master for the harpsichord! But Maliqi made it sound (and look) so easy on the eye with a recital that exuded a delightful combination of heart and mind. This suggests while she played the piano with a lot of heart as she was utterly immersed in her performance, her understanding of classical compositions indicates that she is a sagacious student of the art form. One can’t wait to see her progress as an artist.
Bach wrote the 30 short pieces, a printed introduction to the concert handed out to the select group of invitees read, “To soothe the sleepless nights of one Count Keyserlingk”.
Maliqi conveyed the mood of the composition to the audience from the get go, that is, from the first piece which began steadily with gentle pressing of the keys. As things moved along, the pianist, with tremendous control and flair, shifted her art into storytelling mode, displaying exemplary dexterity. By the time she played the 10th variation (fughetta), not even half way through her act, everyone was riveted on her.
As expected, by the time Maliqi finished the gig, she received a well-deserved round of applause. That wasn’t it. She, after thanking her hosts, as a special treat for her Pakistani friends, played Pakistan’s national anthem on the piano. It was heart-warming.
Originally published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2022