This past July 23-year-old Chu-Fang Huang, who’d already won numerous smaller prizes, was a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and in August she took first place in the Cleveland International. Huang, who was born in China but has lived in the U.S. since 1998, is a graduate of the Curtis Institute and a master’s candidate at the Juilliard School, and she’ll make her Chicago debut this week in a recital at Music in the Loft, which is dedicated to promoting young musicians and composers. On the program will be Vivian Fung’s Toccata, which melds Eastern musical idioms and 20th-century Western dissonance and techniques, along with works Huang prepared for this summer’s competitions. All the pieces on the CDs of her performances at those events are played extremely well. In Haydn’s wonderful Sonata in E Major, Hob XVI:31, her touch is always just right, whether in a delicate or a forceful passage. Her exquisitely nuanced lyricism is also displayed in four short Scarlatti sonatas–the Sonata in F Minor, K. 466, is a little on the romantic side, her use of pedal enhancing her meltingly warm tone, and the F Minor, K. 17, sparkles with clarity. And she captures the dark, murky sounds of the opening to Ravel’s La Valse, playing with the same sweep and grandeur she brings to the more emotional world of Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor. While not note perfect, she holds Liszt’s monumental work together with passion and musicality–qualities competition winners don’t always combine. See also Sunday. Sat 10/22, 3 PM, Pianoforte Chicago, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan, suite 825, 312-291-0000, $10 suggested donation, reservations required.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ellen Appel.