Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Bittersweet Life: Loke Hoe Kit Cello Recital / Review

with LIM YAN, Piano
Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (27 December 2008)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 29 December 2008.

Those sceptics who wondered where the Singapore Symphony Orchestra would find young Singaporean soloists to star in its annual President’s Young Talents Concert series should rest easy given the quality of new names coming through. The New York-trained cellist Loke Hoe Kit is one of these, and his demanding solo recital gave much reason for hope.

Sporting sunshades and a coiffure streaked with crimson tints and sparkles, one could be forgiven for expecting the worst, but Loke proved that his musicianship was more than just packaging. The opening with a Desplanes Intrada and Haydn Divertimento was a quite arresting one, at once highlighting a solid grounding in sound production, one comfortably alternating between lyricism and athleticism.

Off came the shades, revealing mascara and more sparkles on the eyelashes! This seeming Boy George of the cello than polished off Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo, a single-movement concerto inspired by the biblical King Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. Here was a time to be serious, and his oration moved with much eloquence and persuasion, distinguished with bold strokes and gestures, like an impassioned voice from the wilderness.

Clearly he realised the music’s deep dark undertones, and that without pain there would be no glory. Sharing the angst was the excellent pianist Lim Yan (left), whose lush orchestral approach to the piano part (also in the composer’s hand) was every bit as trenchant. Lim also shone in the very tricky piano part in Chopin’s Introduction & Polonaise (Op.3).

Local violinist See Ian Ike than joined Loke in two works for violin and cello - Bohuslav Martinu’s Duo No.1 and the popular Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia. Both musicians operated like hand and glove, adroitly negotiating the music’s twists and turns with much relish.

The Gregor Piatigorsky rewriting of Schubert’s Introduction, Theme and Variations (Op.82 No.2) was based on a quite brilliant work for piano duet, last performed in 2005 by the duo of Dennis Lee and Toh Chee Hung. Here, Loke’s relative reticence came in the way of concluding the “big” pieces on a truly swashbuckling high. Two of the three encore-like pieces that followed - song transcriptions Fauré’s Apres un reve and Debussy’s Beau soir – showed that he was most at home with the meditative and the sensitive.

No comments: