Jenny Q Chai’s recent performance at Le Poisson Rouge apparently raised more questions than it answered.
The dynamic Chinese-American pianist Jenny Q Chai has gained attention for unconventional programs that combine piano pieces, live electronics and video imagery, like the one she presented on Sunday afternoon at Le Poisson Rouge, intriguingly titled “Where Is Chopin?”
The program, the second in Ms. Chai’s Piano Steampunk series, began with “Oli’s Dream,” a work for piano and computer projections by the composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, though many people in the audience might not have known what was being played. A description of the “Where Is Chopin?” program, with a list of works to be performed, was available in advance on the Poisson Rouge website. But no programs were passed out. And Ms. Chai did not speak to the audience to explain, for example, why “Where Is Chopin?” included no piece by that classic composer.
Mr. Kapuscinski, who was born in Warsaw and teaches composition at Stanford University, writes works in which the playing of instruments influences live multimedia content, as in “Oli’s Dream.” The piano dominated this 15-minute piece, which unfolds in quizzical episodes: stretches of lacy filigree, jittery riffs, oscillating repetitive chords and chorale-like passages that suggest Messiaen. The projected images mostly involved letters and words that kept reforming into fragments, like: “I am a,” “a not her,” “another.”