Today’s Piano Performance at the Asian Civilisation Museum is a collaborative effort with the Yong Siew Toh Censevatory of Music (YSTCM) at the National University of Singapore.
The programme consists of pieces the students have recently performed at their evening concerts at the Conservatory Concert Hall or masterslasses which I have had to miss because of prior commitments.
A total of ten pieces were performed today:
Johann Sebastian Bach (German, 1685-1750) – Prelude and Fugue in F Major, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, BWV 852
This was performed by a Year I student, and I enjoyed watching his fingers running over the keyboard and how the two hands took turns in voicing the subjects. The sustaining notes were done so effectively that it sounded as though the sustaining pedal was expertly employed even when there was no pedalling. (I watched!)
Joseph Haydn (Austrian, 1782-1809) – Sonata in A-flat Major, Hob. XVI:43 (I. Moderato)
The young lady who played this achieved such soothing and velvety effect that at one point I though: I would have been lulled to wonderful slumberland if not for the dexterous fingerwork.
Adolf von Henselt (German, 1814-1889) – “If I Were a Bird” from 12 Etudes Caracteristiques de Concert
It was the first time I heard this piece and I loved its singing melody amidst great fluidity. There was clever use of both pedals too.
Robert Muczynski (Polish-American, 1929-2010) – Toccata, opus 15
This was the only piece today that I didn’t take to because it had a sense of nouvelle vague. I was really in awe of the pencil-thin pianist, though, because of the fieriness exuded.
Theodore Lechetizky (Polish, 1830-1915) – “The Two Larks”, impromptu, opus 2, No 1
This piece is absolutely sweet, melodious and heavenly; and the pianist brought a good balance to the singing voice and answering call of the larks throughout. (I am reminded that I’ve not played a similarly titled piece for a long time; and I shall do so soon.)
Dmitry Kabalevsky (Russian, 1904-1987) – Sonata No 3 in F Major, opus 46 (I. Allegro con moto)
A piece that is almost impossible for an amateur pianist to play, this Year 2 student played it as though she could have done it in her sleep! What wouldn’t I give to possess the ability to express the range of dynamics that she displayed!
Joseph Haydn (Austrian, 1732-1809) – Sonata in E-flar Major, Hob. XVI-52 (I. Allegro)
A very popular piece that I’ve played, the first chord immediately struck me that this pianist is blessed with the rare attibutes of a K-pop idol and a a classical music maestro. The crisp notes, the precision in his execution behind each note, the fingerwork throughout is so awesome it is beyond what I can describe.
Frederic Chopin (Polish, 1810-1849) – Ballade No 3 in A-flat Major, opus 47
This sweet young lady is obviously unfazed by the demands of performing the piece well in spite of the sudden horrendous blasting of heavy metal music outside the museum, although I must say I still much prefer what I hear on Lang Lang’s CD. I look forward to seeing this Year 2 student in the next Conservatory Concerto Competition.
Ludwig van Beethoven (German, 1779-1827) – Piano Sonata No 30 in E Major, opus 109 (I. Vivace ma non troppo, Adagio espressivo II. Prestissimo)
I have attempted to play this several times, and was never ever able ro proceed beyond the first page, thus I was really impressed and admiring of this Year 4 student whose fingerwork was effortless and whose coordination between the hands and whose stamina must be lauded! Besides the technical prowess, there was also a quality that brought out smiles and delight to the audience.
Franz Liszt (Hungarian, 1811-1886), Charles Gounod (French, 1818-1893) – Waltz from Gounod’s Faust, transcribed by Liszt
As in most performances, the best is kept for the last. This piece was performed at Stephen Hough’s Piano Masterclass held at the YSTCM yesterday afternoon, so I’m sure today’s playing would be markedly improved although I wasn’t able to attend yesterday’s session. I waited with abated breath for the performance to start, and I wasn’t disappointed. I became totally immersed from the moment the opening chord was struck. Knowing that I would not be able to manage the rapid, cascading running passages (including six glississando) with my arthritic hands, I nevertheless resolve to look up the music score the next time I visit library@esplanade so that I can attempt to play the Cantabile section, instead of just contenting myself with the abridged version that I’ve been playing. This is another pianist to look out for in the next Consevatory Concerto Competition.
Today’s performance of all classical pieces by the YSTCM students was the first that I’d attended in many months; I look forward to their jazz performance next month!