Tuesday, 22 June 2010

LIM HUI and LIM YAN / Violin and Piano Recital / Review

LIM HUI Violin Recital

with Lim Yan, Piano

Esplanade Recital Studio

Sunday (20 June 2010)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 22 June 2010.

What a difference seven years make. It was in 2003 when a shy and awkward teenager claimed Second Prize in the National Violin Competition where no first prize was awarded. Today, that diffidence has transformed into poise and purpose in the person of Lim Hui, a self-assured virtuoso not without a touch of glamour.

Presently based in Japan, Lim returned with a confident showing in a demanding recital programme that proffers a major artist in the making. In Beethoven’s popular Spring Sonata in F major (Op.24), she exhibited a full and even-tempered tone that served its lyrical lines well. Beethoven’s inner fire was not ignored as she was fully capable of channeling soft and sensitive into robust and resolute within a single breath, with lots of gradations in between.

Its coupling with Brahms’ Second Sonata in A major (Op.100) was a most natural one, with a similar penchant for song-like qualities while simmering over a bed of underlying disquiet. Lim and her pianist first-cousin Lim Yan, the near perfect collaborator, displayed excellent chemistry throughout in the passionate passages and soaring climaxes.

The near full-house audience was plenty enthused, and accorded the duo applause in between every movement of all the sonatas. Without trying to sound like a cold fish, it would have been far better for the fans to reserve the plaudits to the end of each work. Intrusive clapping can be a distraction to performers too.

The shorter second half showcased 20th century music, beginning with Estonian Arvo Part’s minimalist Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in a Mirror). Anti-virtuosic to a fault, this contemplatively static work delighted in long-sustained notes from the violin, while the piano sent up the repeated triads of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

The oasis of calm it provided then erupted into the fireworks of Prokofiev’s Second Sonata in D major (Op.94a) where its bittersweet angular melodies melded deliciously with percussive and motoric rhythms in an unlikely juxtaposition. When a performance makes one forget about the difficulties of execution, as the two Lims ably demonstrated, it has clearly succeeded in making its mark. The encore, from John William’s Schindler’s List, was merely icing on the cake. Just brilliant.

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