Doctorate student piano recital stuns audience


Musical Arts PhD student Mo Tian performs pieces by Liszt, Chopin, and Beethoven on Saturday, January 21, at von der Mehden Recital Hall. Tian has performed throughout both the United States and China in solo concerts and chamber music recitals. (Akshara Thejaswi/The Daily Campus)

On a pleasantly warm January night in the von der Mehden Recital Hall at 5 p.m. this past Saturday, pianist and UConn Doctor of Musical Arts program student Mo Tian entertained the small auditorium with his enormous talent and grace. The recital consisted of three classical writings from grandmaster composers from the 16th and 17th centuries such as Franz Liszt, Frederic Chopin and Ludwig van Beethoven. With over 20 years of playing under his belt, dressed in all black formal concert attire, Tian received a warm welcome from the audience as he situated himself in front of his instrument after taking a brief bow to the applauding crowd.

The first piece, Consolations, S. 172, R. 12, written by Franz Liszt, consisted of six movements that all had contrasting melodies, dynamics and even tempos, but were all tied together with similar riffs and progressions. Some movements were somber, slow and eerie whilst others were joyous and uplifting waltz style pieces that ultimately tied together the piece for a deep and well-rounded experience.

“Mo used to be the accompanist for Festival Choir, and after rehearsals he would always stay late and practice. He has great touch and is very skilled in his dynamics that really generates a beautiful sound.” Said Krystyna Kapalczynski, a recent chemical engineering graduate of UConn who attended the show.

The second piece, Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante, Op.22, by Frederic Chopin, greatly showcased what Kapalczynski referred to. This piece started out very quiet and peaceful with his fingers dancing on the keys with incredible speed and precision were reminiscent of a butterfly in the springtime. The piece dipped low and dark, followed by a rise to soaring riffs, forming an incredibly dynamic and elaborate piece that in many ways, told a narrative story with beauty from start to finish. After the completion of each piece, the audience became louder and more rambunctious in response to the product of Tian’s passion.

The final piece, Piano Sonata No. 32 in A-flat major, Op.110, by Beethoven was almost the most elaborate and complex of all, giving many opportunities for Tian to display his deep musical knowledge and skill. Every part of Tian’s body was in sync with the music; his breathing, his posture, his feet on the petals and of course fingers on the keys all working in seamless harmony. This final piece had many repeating melodies, one high and cheery, the other dark and low. Each time Tian returned to the riffs, they were given additional layers and volume that gave this piece great depth and structure, leading to some powerful final bars.

“I enjoyed all the pieces in many ways. My favorite would have to be the Beethoven piece. I really feel the most in touch with it,” Tian said during a brief interview after the show.

When the last sustained note was released, the audience burst into an impressive uproar for its size as Tian took a few humble bows with a warm smile. When the audience was through displaying their affection, Tian gave the audience a few words of gratitude. “In the audience I see fans, students, colleagues and doctorate committee members. Hello and thank you so much for coming. It means a lot to me to have a community like this. So thank you.”

Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at

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