Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lin Xiu Min Piano Recital / Review

LIN XIU MIN Piano Recital
The Living Room, The Arts House
Monday (4 October 2010)

What happens when a talented young musician has to make a decision between a career in medicine and one performing the piano? Do both, and do both well, it would seem, if you subscribe to the philosophy of Lin Xiu Min. At 11, he became the youngest person in the world to attain a Fellowship Diploma of London’s Trinity College of Music. When offered a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, he pursued Medicine in Melbourne instead, while having private lessons on the sideline. As recently as one year ago, he was still deciding what it would be…

And it would be Medicine! However this Hougang Polyclinic medical officer has found the time to present his first public piano recital. And what a demanding programme it was, playing completely from memory two of Chopin’s most difficult works, and Franz Liszt’s monumental Sonata in B minor.
In Chopin’s Fourth Ballade, his simple and unadorned statement of the introduction and theme was distinguished by its clarity, with sparing use of the sustaining pedal. There was to be neither extraneous frills nor gilding the lily. Yet he was able to weave a web of fantasy as the work got seriously underway, creating a plethora of sound on the Kawai grand piano within the reverberant setting that was the Living Room. Even the fearsome coda held little terrors for him, one who knew when to let it rip if desired.

No less impressive was his crisp and mercurial handling of the Fourth Scherzo, easily the most skittish and elusive of the tetralogy. He maintained a good sense of pulse throughout and generated a tension which kept the performance from being merely some technical exercise. While Lin is an amateur, in no way were his readings amateurish. Professional pianists would have had their hands full and overflowing.
A figure of concentration
before the onslaught of Liszt.

And so to the Liszt Sonata that capped this Horowitzian programme. The work’s four main themes were well presented and he had a good sense of the work’s overall architecture. Stampeding octaves? No problem. Running fusillades? Check. Liszt’s transformation of themes was a piece of genius in conception, and it was realised as a seamless narrative which unfolded inexorably. The ups and downs of this roller-coaster ride were skilfully negotiated, and the small audience its willing passengers. And when it seemed that Lin might turn into a cul-de-sac or be dogged with some lapse, he extricated himself as any seasoned concert pianist might, coming out unscathed. Playing on the edge throughout, here was a performance of no half measures that ebbed and flowed, rising to a magnificent climax before retiring into subterranean calm.

So what next? By the looks of things, this trend of professional performances by non-professionals in music – pioneered by the likes of Tan It Koon, Ling Ai Ee and Au Kah Kay (all medicos and pianists) – looks like going strong for the long haul.

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