Wednesday, 29 June 2011

JASPER GOH Flute Recital / Review

JASPER GOH Flute Recital
Artists Academy, One Commonwealth
Monday (27 June 2011)

An edited version of this review was published in The Straits Times on 29 June 2011 with the title "A poignant farewell".

The Singapore National Youth Orchestra has nurtured so many of Singapore’s talented young musicians over the decades that its place in our cultural life is irreplaceable. There however comes a time when a young musician has to leave its ranks to answer a higher calling, such as overseas studies or national service in the case of 18-year-old men.

Flautist Jasper Goh’s farewell recital before his enlistment to arms provided some poignant but treasurable moments. Having thrilled with Lowell Liebermann’s ebullient Piccolo Concerto almost a year ago, his hour-long and well-balanced programme provided more of the same glitter.

Opening with Telemann’s brief unaccompanied Fantasia No.2, his sweet and smooth tone soothed while comfortably negotiated the alternating slow and fast movements for an appetising palate tickler. Then came the recital’s big work, Prokofiev Flute Sonata in D major (Op.94).

Well known it its violin version, this engaging but tricky masterpiece revels in its bittersweet lyrical melodies, ambushed by unsuspecting rhythmic shifts. Goh coped with the complexities admirably, while making the music sing with sinuous charm. Partner to the endeavour was sensitive pianist Loh Wan Shan, who ensured that her exuberant piano part never overwhelmed in this little cosy venue.

Cecile Chaminade’s popular Concertino was another showpiece, where Goh’s winning way with cantabile was topped with his immaculate technique on many flashy scales. A dazzlingly delivered cadenza was the icing before a spirited conclusion.

Goh was later joined by fellow flautist Teo Shaoming in Friedrich Kuhlau’s delightful Duet No.3 in G minor. Here both players were nigh inseparable, each providing the other with delicious harmony, steady accompaniment and delicate counterpoint. Give and take was the name of the game.

Pianist Loh returned for Franz Doppler’s Rigoletto Fantasy, based on themes from Verdi’s opera. There were to be no academic pretentions in this out and out crowd-pleaser, which saw both flautists attempt to outdo each other in floridly dressing up familiar melodies like La donna e mobile, the Quartet and Caro nome. With tongue firmly in cheek, the duo delighted in variations on the latter aria as it morphed into an outrageous waltz to close.

It is hoped that a flourishing talent like this will continue to grow, and stay true to his art during his two years as a soldier.

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