Sunday, 4 September 2011

A DOUBLE LIFE / Loke Hoe Kit Cello Recital / Review

with Lin Juan, Cello & Nicholas Loh, Piano
Esplanade Recital Studio
Thursday (1 September 2011)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 3 September with the title "Double cello delights".

It takes an intrepid and entrepreneurial spirit to single-handedly produce your own CD recording and then organise a concert to launch it. Such was the enterprise of young cellist Loke Hoe Kit, whose attention to details as disparate as adventurous programming, fashion and glamour, is a breath of fresh air in the local classical music scene often accused of being too conservative.

His recording featured duos for cello, where Loke played both parts, a process achieved by overdubbing. Short of cloning himself for the concert, he enlisted the help of fellow cellist Lin Juan in this joint venture. Both men, in their twenties, seemed to appear poles apart. Extroverted and chatty Loke, with his geeky Korean styling, could not be more different from the silent and introverted Lin’s suave international look.

Yet both cellists were unusually well matched in performance. For the Singapore premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s neo-classical Suite (1970), they struck a fine balance of give and take, each having their turns in leading melodies and backing harmonies. The third movement Arioso gave both players particularly beautiful passages, its serenity giving way to the hustle bustle of the Finale.

The other major work was the Sonata in G minor attributed to Handel, with both players switching parts. Although their instruments each had different and unique voices, they blended as one in its alternating slow and fast movements. With lots of contrasts and colour, there was never a dull movement.

Julius Klengel --> Gregor Piatigorsky --> Nathaniel Rosen --> Loke Hoe Kit

Much of the music performed is rarely heard outside of specialist cello circles. Julius Klengel’s hymn-like Sarabande, dense with polyphony, saw the duo struggle with maintaining perfect intonation, In Reinhold Gliere’s Duo No.1 (from Op.53), their intertwined parts were so well knit as to be indivisible. Not to be forgotten was the discreet and sensitive piano accompaniment provided by Nicholas Loh, whose burly appearance belied solid musicianship.

Two of Anton Webern’s early tonal pieces and Gaspar Cassado’s Toccata (in the manner of Frescobaldi) were stylishly performed, more evidence of Loke’s ingenuity. His small coterie of fans was rewarded with Menotti’s Arioso as an encore, a welcome double take that concluded this substantial and enjoyable recital

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