Monday, 7 November 2011

A Short Recital by Margaret Leng Tan

The Singaporean pianist Margaret Leng Tan, hailed as the "high priestess of the avant-garde", was back in Singapore for a short stopover, where she gave a short recital for a small select audience at the home of Drs M.C.Tong and Geh Min. On show was one of the most travelled of her 20 toy pianos, on which she has delighted audiences the world over.

She was proud to state that she is no longer the only toy pianist in the world today, merely the best. Her obsession has now caught on, with other artists jumping on the band-wagon. After a short preamble, she performed Stephen Montague's Mirabella (Tarantella) and a short piece from Erik Griswold's Old McDonald's Yellow Submarine.

She is the absolute master (or mistress?) of the toy piano, the art and literature is anything but child's play.

A view of the keys and the piano's internal mechanism.

She donned the headgear of Brunnhilde to perform Jed Distler's One Minute Ring, which recycles leitmotifs from Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung including the exclamation, "Das its kein Mann!", on Siegfried's discovery of Brunnhilde's repose.

One of the most beautiful pieces was Phyllis Chen's Carousel, which includes a music box playing a perforated paper roll (cranked by the left hand), Margaret's right hand playing a descant part and Cobwebbed Carousel, with the paper roll turned upside down!

Finally, Margaret sings into the inside of the grand piano while Geh Min depresses the sustaining pedal to allow the natural renonances to be heard. The work, a vocal interlude from John Cage's Four Walls.

Margaret Leng Tan's 1970s Schoenhut toy piano has been heard in all three auditoriums of New York's Carnegie Hall.

No comments: