Friday, 23 October 2009

THE JOY OF PIANO: Jinsang Lee & Ilya Rashkovskiy Piano Recitals / Review

THE JOY OF PIANO
Jinsang Lee, Piano
Ilya Rashkovskiy, Piano
University Cultural Centre
Tuesday & Wednesday (20 & 21 October 2009)
This review was published in The Straits Times on 23 October 2009.

The Joy of Piano, part of the ExxonMobil Campus Concert series, is a two-evening mini-festival showcasing the diversity of piano literature. Featuring first prizewinners of the prestigious Hong Kong International Piano Competition, the themed recitals encouraged ingenuity and innovative programming and ingenuity, an art often taken for granted.

Music Making Among Friends was Korean pianist Jinsang Lee’s programme, artfully juxtaposing the music of Chopin, Mendelssohn and little-known German Ferdinand Hiller (left), who were close friends and peers. Hiller is better remembered for cutting off a lock of Beethoven’s hair on his deathbed than his compositions. The First Sonata (Op.47) is a concentrated ten minutes of virtuoso note-spinning which sounds better in Lee’s highly dexterous fingers than it actually is.

Far more memorable was a selection of seven varied Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, where Lee balanced a soulful cantabile with delicate prestidigitation. Even better was the Chopin set with three Nocturnes Op.15 (dedicated to Hiller) performed alongside three Mazurkas Op.59.

Lee is fully attuned with Chopin’s melancholia and the gentle lilt he created for the Polish dances in three-quarter time was simply irresistible. The showy Variations Brillantes Op.12 and Waltz Op.18, both in B flat major, revealed a more scintillating side of an artist best described as a “poet of the piano”.

The Russian Ilya Rashkovskiy’s presented Musical Tableaux, establishing him as a supreme “colourist of the piano”. The entire first half was Spanish, beginning with two pieces from Enrique Granados’ Goyescas. Rhythmic exactitude in the Fandango By Candlelight was balanced by the langour and melting lyricism of the Maiden And The Nightingale.


Rashkovskiy also exhibited a myriad of tints and shades in Joaquin Rodrigo’s Andalusian Impressions – including a tantalising Devil’s Seguidilla – while the impressionistic hues of Federico Mompou’s Paisajes (Landscapes, composer pictured left) came across most beautifully. The peal of distant bells over shimmering ripples in El Lago (The Lake) was particularly haunting.

Back at home base in Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux Op.39, Rashkovskiy’s control of the treacherous piano-writing was exemplary, barnstorming in the finger-twisters while brooding in a typically Slavic manner for the somber numbers. Each of the nine tone poems was presented as multi-faceted gemstones, and if memories of a Richter or Ashkenazy were evoked, it was no coincidence. The capacity audience on both evenings was witnessing something rather special.
The Joy of Music was presented by National University of Singapore Centre for the Arts, sponsored by ExxonMobil, and supported by The Chopin Society of Hong Kong.

1 comment:

Chang Tou Liang said...

Rashkovskiy's encores:
CHOPIN √Čtude in A minor, Op.25 No.11 "Winter Wind"
SCRIABIN √Čtude in D sharp minor, Op.8 No.12