Thursday (4 August 2011)
As a parting gift to Singapore before leaving for the States for her university studies, young Indonesian Chinese-American pianist Aileen Gozali gave an hour-long recital at Singapore's Steinway Gallery. A winner of multiple musical prizes and awards, and finalist at this year's Hilton Head International Junior Piano Competition, Aileen's recital was as varied as it was well conceived.
She began with Mozart's Sonata in D major (K576), revealing a crisp and fluent technique. Her pedalling and crafting of the slow movement's lament was examplary, one that touched the heart. Totally different was Bartok's Suite (Op.14), where her rhythmic control and ability to bring on the required muscle and volume to bear showed she could vary her style to suit the music. Yet the quiet ending to the work with its syncopated chords held the most resonance. Then came a most musical reading of Chopin's Fourth Ballade (Op.52), where poetry and passion were worn heart-on-sleeve as it built to a tumultuous climax. She leapt fearlessly into the treacherous coda, and although there were a few missed notes, the overall effect paid rich dividends.
The surest sign of her musical maturity came in her traversal of the eight Fantaisiestucke (Op.12) of Robert Schumann. Not only did she understand its idiom, she also lived its varied moods and emotions like a seasoned veteran. Des Abends was shaped with a pearly lustre while Aufschwung soared with unabated fervour. There was a minor lapse in Warum? but its individual voices came across clearly. Most spectacular was her steely control and tension she generated for In der Nacht, easily the most difficult piece - technically and interpretatively - of the set. The humour in Fabel and the dizzying pirouettes of Traumes Wirren were also keenly displayed before closing with a valedictory Epilog, the echoes of distant tolling bells bringing the work to a glorious close.
As a cheeky encore, her spin on the Mozart-Volodos Turkish Rondo, with all its Horowitzicms, brought down the house. It was NOT her teacher's choice of work, she readily admitted, which shows that this is young lady - just all of 16 - clearly has a mind of her own too. She will be a massive success wherever she goes.