Monday, 22 August 2011

A MUSICAL REUNION / Lim Family Musicians / Review

Lim Family Musicians
Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (20 August 2011)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 22 August 2011 with the title "It runs in the Lim family".

It is well known that music runs in the genes. The Bachs, Mozarts, Tcherepnins and von Trapps have their Singaporean equivalents over the years – the daughters of Goh Soon Tioe, the string-playing Chan brothers, and now the Lim cousins. In their mid-20s to early 30s, the seven Lims include the children, nephews and nieces of conductor Lim Yau.

With a harpsichordist, violinist, violist, cellist, oboist and two pianists, an intriguing number of combinations threw up a well-programmed and pleasing two-hour long concert exploring the byways and rarities of chamber repertoire.

For example, how often does one hear Beethoven’s “Eyeglass” Duet for viola and cello (below left)? The unusual title came about because its first performers wore glasses, except that the sight of bespectacled violist Lim Chun and cellist Lin Juan did not quite raise eyebrows in myopia-prevalent Singapore. Its implicit humour gave way to more serious vibes for Mahler’s early Piano Quartet in A minor (below right), when both were joined by Chun’s sister, violinist Lim Hui and pianist Lim Yan.

Thick Brahmsian chords and Wagnerian chromaticisms made for a heavy meal, considerably lightened by Jeffrey Agrell’s Blues for D.D. that followed, where Veda Lim Wei’s oboe morphed from a hazy Debussyan opening to flighty jazzy riffs, accompanied by Lim Jia’s harpsichord and Juan’s cello. The diminutive oboist was arguably the star of the evening, her bright and sonorous tone, gorgeously contoured, was hard to forget.

The sibs: Veda Lin Wei (oboe) and Lin Juan (cello)

The other sibs: Lim Hui (violin) and Lim Chun (viola)

She and brother Juan combined splendidly for Lennox Berkeley’s Petite Suite, a neo-Baroque set of dances with both lift and life. The other siblings (above) also shined, Hui in Bach’s Violin Sonata in E major, and Chun in Alan Shulman’s virtuosic Theme and Variations.

The husband and wife pairing of Yan and Koh Jia Hwei were a delight in Poulenc’s Sonata for piano four hands (above). Choreographing a scene comique of marital rivalry and bliss amidst busy crossing of hands, they drew ripples of mirth from the audience.

All seven musicians were united for the 6-Part Ricercar from J.S.Bach’s A Musical Offering(above). There was no place for period-performance authenticity or political correctness here, with both piano (both pianists contributing a hand each) and harpsichord included in the mix for an enjoyable close. As they say, a family that plays together stays together.

This concert will be repeated on Sunday 28 August at the same venue. Be sure to come.

All photos by Lim Khan, yet another cousin in the prodigious Lim family.

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