Wednesday, 5 May 2010

ALBERT LIN Piano Recital / Review

ALBERT LIN Piano Recital
Esplanade Recital Studio
Tuesday (4 May 2010)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 6 May 2010.

Among the small field of Singaporean pianists over the years, there is always one among them who stands out as a maverick, one who bucks the trends and relishes in offbeat repertoire. In the past, it was Ong Lip Tat, Victor Khor and the ever-young Margaret Leng Tan who raised collective eyebrows. These days, that mantle has fallen upon the small shoulders of Albert Lin.

His solo recital was ambrosia for those wearied by Chopin and more Chopin. It was not pure Bach that opened the programme, but Bach-Godowsky. The hallowed Polish icon’s amplification of Bach’s Violin Sonata No.1 In G minor had a quality of being infused by steroids and acid. Its grandiloquent vistas resounded in the studio’s reverberant acoustic like an organ, and Lin lapped up every turn of the four movements with trenchancy and fervour.

Next were Singapore premieres of four selections from Canadian super-virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin’s suite Con Intimissimo Sentimento. Three Ländler (Austrian dances in three-quarter time) and a Berceuse exhibited a more intimate side of both pianists (composer and performer), revelling in more piquant, naughty harmonies and subtle rhythmic insight.

Very different was Singapore-based American Dirk Stromberg’s 9/11…In Protest Of…, an angry and reflective essay that represented an arsenal of 20th century devices, including Ivesian tone clusters and Cowellian harmonic sheens. The work closed as it began, with the sustaining pedal holding every note until they died out naturally.

Letting down his hair with a jazz selection, Lin eased out the blues and boogie woogie of four Nikolai Kapustin Preludes, followed by three Gershwin songs transcribed by the late-lamented Earl Wild, who died earlier this year. The free-wheeling perpetual motion spun in the latter’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm was simple infectious.

The intrepid keyboard adventure closed with Alexander Scriabin’s Fourth Sonata, ironically the most familiar work on the programme. The Andante was seductive, its melting lyricism soon taking wing in the volatile finale. Defying gravity was the illusion in this Prestissimo, and Lin rose Icarus-like, to a whisker of crashing and burning out in its final ecstatic pages. Taking risks is part of “live” performance, you either have it in you or not at all. Albert Lin is the Khoo Swee Chiow of the piano.

This recital was presented by the Young Musicians Society (YMS) as part of its AfterEight series of recitals.

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