Thursday, 1 October 2009

JIN TA Flute Recital / Review

JIN TA Flute Recital
with Liu Jia, Piano
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall
Tuesday (29 September 2009)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 1 October 2009.

In one of the finest flute recitals in recent memory, Singapore Symphony Orchestra principal flautist Jin Ta distinguished himself as a virtuoso par excellence. It was not just his craftsmanship and versatility that impressed, but the musicianship in articulating a phrase and shaping it with the love of ages that transcended mere notes.

The recital began with Baroque, Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in G major displayed clear limpid lines in dulcet tones in its four-movement sonata da chiesa form, varying slow and fast with great ease and alacrity. Liu Jia’s piano (left) was unobtrusive but as with baroque music, harpsichord accompaniment would have been preferred.

Jin was all on his own in living Spanish composer Cristobal Halffter’s Debla (1980), a tour de force of solo playing. Beginning with long sustained notes, the soliloquy was punctuated with ear-piercing shrieks but this was no empty bluster for mere effect. The work probed a wide range of moods, presenting a hint of lyricism without evolving into melody, reveling in flamenco-like foot-stamping before closing by whistling overtones into his golden flute.

More virtuoso fare was ushered by the Flute Concerto (1950) by André Jolivet, a French composer for whom dissonance was a mere excuse for luscious melodic writing. Sounds ironic but the first movement brought out long-breathed song-like lines that bathed the senses with aural honey. Its slow-fast-slow-fast sequence uncannily echoed the Telemann, creating an aesthetic symmetry that was not immediately apparent but totally satisfying.

The extremely demanding piano accompaniment necessitated razor-sharp reflexes, which the diminutive Liu handled superbly, laying the path for Jin’s forceful show of exuberance. Collective hair was let down when the duo was joined by bassist Guennadi Mouzyka and percussionist Mark Suter on drums (left) in a selection from Claude Bolling’s Suites for flute and jazz trio popularised by the late Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Jazzy and Veloce were the breathlessly exciting finales of the Suites No.2 and No.1 respectively, bringing out the cheers from the house. Jin then dedicated his encore, the popular Sentimentale (Suite No.1), to his conservatory colleagues and audience. Like his surname, the heartfelt perfomance spelt pure gold.

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