David Fung’s Nod to His Old Friend Mozart

Jul 15, 2019

Pianist David Fung makes his Steinway & Sons recording debut with Mozart, whose intimacy and songfulness has been an alluring presence in David’s life for as long as he can remember.

David Fung was intensely musical as a small boy growing up in Australia. After watching one of his brother’s violin lessons, five-year-old David, who’d never played the violin, took hold of the instrument and shocked his family by attacking (with finesse) the very passage his brother was struggling with. David’s violin lessons began then and there. At age eight, he took up the piano, and fell passionately under its spell. In his teens, he found the piano’s magic won out over his love of the violin.

But despite his incredible prowess and competitive success as a young pianist, he chose to follow his brother’s footsteps and become a doctor. It took only a couple of years of medical school to feel the void that came with leaving music behind. He switched gears, moving on to become the first piano graduate of the prestigious Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. Yale came next. At 22, he won top prizes at the Queen Elisabeth and Arthur Rubinstein Competitions. Now he’s a busy globetrotter with friends in cities around the world. “I have become accustomed to saying hello and good-bye in the same breath,” he says.

Through it all, Fung has had an intense attraction to Mozart. It goes back to his earliest memories of listening to music, when his mother’s career as a singer helped to bring him into Mozart’s lyrical universe. For his debut recording on the Steinway & Sons label, David Fung has chosen a very personal program: three of Mozart’s early piano sonatas, and, as a closer, the penultimate masterpiece – the Piano Sonata No. 17.

There are heartbreaking movements (listen to the Adagio of the 2nd Sonata, track 8) where Fung pulls his phrases from a special silence that is exclusive to the tender world of Mozart. Voices arrive and disappear, in and out of the atmosphere of their circumstances, just as they do in the operas. Fung relishes the art of exploring Mozart’s characters – giving them freedom to breathe, and casting them in darkness and light to help reveal their humanity. All that from music that, at first blush, can seem so simple.

Listen to David Fung talking about Mozart:

To listen to samples from the album, visit Steinway & Sons.

For more information and to purchase this album, visit ArkivMusic.