Question: What is your style of playing Bach?
Hilda Huang: I mean, when I play Bach, I try to make the dances a
dance and make them all really lively and light and think about how
they would have been played in the Baroque era. Of course now that we
have the piano, compared to the harpsichord or the clavichord, there's a
completely different sound, so I wouldn't try to imitate the
harpsichord. But we still want to keep some of the essence of the
harpsichord in it, so I like to play with some of the timings in it
because on harpsichord there's no dynamics. So all you can do is with
timing and with touch and articulation. So I like to bring some of those
aspects onto the piano and but keep it in the Baroque style while
having a piano sound.
Question: How is playing Bach different from other composers?
Hilda Huang: I think one, I have a lot of friends who also play
instruments and mainly their reason for not liking Bach is because it's
so hard, but I like to encourage them to explore more of it because it's
hard, so that they can discover something new within each piece and
hopefully they can use that and take it and apply it to other composers.
So that's also helpful.
I think it's a good way for people to learn how to multitask, because
you have to deal with so many different voices at once and they all have
to be really clean. It's also just really fun to play and it helps you
improve your technique. There's so many running lines, I mean you have
to practice them at first, of course, but after a while when you get the
hang of it, it's really fun to just see your hands moving all the way
over the keyboard.
Question: How long does it take to prepare a new piece?
Hilda Huang: I usually work on pieces for at least a year. I listen
to them when I first start playing them and I listen for which ones I
like. So, I'll pick them up, find the music and just start working on
them by myself. And usually it takes me about a year or so to get some
good practicing in to get some good understanding about the piece. And
then after that—of course, during that time, I work with my teacher—but
after that, we'll start preparing it to use maybe for performances or
other things like that.
Recorded on June 7, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman