REVIEW / CONCERT
Melvyn Tan (piano), Loh Jun Hong, Seah Huan Yuh, Yang Shuxiang (violins), Matthias Oestringer (viola), Robert Choi (cello)
Victoria Concert Hall
Joining pianist Melvyn Tan was a handful of string gamers from re:Sound Collective for this programme of chamber works for, respectively, two, 4 and 5 gamers.
Tan was very a lot the dominant musical drive right here and there have been occasions in the course of the first half of the concert when one puzzled whether or not any substantive distinction would have been made had the string gamers not been there.
This was not right down to any extra egotism from Tan nor undue subservience by the re:Sound gamers, however within the selection of music.
Early Beethoven Violin Sonatas are typically criticised for sounding extra like piano sonatas with obbligato violin than true duo works, and with this efficiency of the frothy Eighth, one noticed some justification for that criticism.
As Tan spiritedly broached the turbulent waters of the piece, Loh Jun Hong adopted in his wake, valiantly making an attempt to maintain up, however often, particularly within the manic last motion, compelled to chop a number of corners.
Schubert’s Adagio And Rondo Concertante not often options in concert programmes and this efficiency made it clear why that’s so. With the three string gamers dabbing away at a variety of free concepts, the piano toyed with an array of harmonies which by no means appeared to steer wherever. One can forgive Schubert, nonetheless – he was a mere lad of 19 on the time – and though he was responsible of an terrible lot of aimless note-spinning, he did pull one thing magical out of the hat on the very finish.
The actual meat of the concert got here within the second half, with a efficiency of Shostakovich’s basic Piano Quintet of 1940.
This, too, is a piece by which the piano very a lot takes centre stage, however the string quartet is important to offer verisimilitude to the dizzying roller-coaster of moods.
From the strict Bach-like opening Prelude by way of the intensely worked-out second motion Fugue, the outrageously rumbustious Scherzo, the stark and desolate Intermezzo, to the surprisingly understated ending of the Finale, that is music which requires not simply immense focus from all 5 gamers, however an actual sense of shared involvement with its emotional implications.
It was apparent – because it was all through the programme – that Tan and the string gamers had laboured lengthy and arduous over the technical intricacies of the music. But right here you bought the sense that they’d additionally begun to know the inside message of what they have been taking part in.
Perhaps, although, it nonetheless felt just a little like work in progress, with a number of extra performances essential to succeed in the interpretative goal they so clearly had of their collective sights. And this was strengthened when, as an encore, they performed the third motion once more. This time spherical, the efficiency actually caught the temper of biting satire.