Kazakh pianist Dina Duisen is no stranger to Oxford, having played at five Oxford Philomusica Piano Festivals. Impressed with her playing, Jonathan Williams, director of music at St Hilda’s, invited her several years ago to give a recital at the Jacqueline du Pré Building. At the time Dina was studying in the US and could not take up the opportunity. Duisen was born into a family of musicians and began playing the piano aged five. She went on to study at the Khazkh National Academy of Music. She is now in London doing an MA in performance at the Royal Academy of Music. She has won prizes at several international piano competitions.
Her recital opened with a fluent performance of Haydn’s Sonata No. 60. Her playing was polished and elegant as befits this charming piece. Two Chopin Nocturnes followed – Op.15 No.1 and Op.48 No.1. Duisen seemed more relaxed in these pieces and her performance of Op.15 No.1 was particularly engaging. This is clearly music she has a feeling for and she played with passion and conviction. Another composer with whom she obviously has an affinity is Rachmaninov, whose famous Prelude in C sharp minor from the Cinque Morceaux de Fantasie Op.3 was the next item in the programme. This was a confident performance, perhaps emphasising drama over delicacy, but certainly stirring. A second Rachmaninov Prelude followed, Op.23 No.5 ‘alla Marcia.’ Here there were nice dynamic contrasts and a strong sense of overall direction – a compelling performance.
Stravinsky’s piano arrangement of music from Petrushka demands some virtuosic skills from the performer. Duisen played the first movement, Danse Russe. This was a brave performance, though at times I felt we lost the underlying pulse of the music as it shifted through some tortuous rhythmic changes.
The encore, Prelude, by the Kazakh composer Gaziza Zhubanova, was an unexpected bonus.
Read the review at the Oxford Times