Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Flute Festival 2012 / Gala Concerts / Review

Conservatory Concert Hall
Saturday & Sunday (5 & 6 May 2012)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 8 May 2012 with the title "Discovering the magic of flutes".

Believe it or not, there are two international flute festivals in Singapore this year. The first, organised by MusicGear and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, culminated in two evening concerts that featured a Who’s Who of professional flute playing in Southeast Asia. The repertoire showcased was refreshingly wide-ranging, from customary competition fodder to outright rarities.

Young flautists who had won their categories in competitions held in the afternoons had their moment under the spotlight. The Debussy Trio performed a movement from Debussy’s late Sonata for flute, viola and harp, and the lively finale of Ibert’s Flute Concerto was given an immaculate and exciting performance by the German Johanna Dömötör (below).

Principal flautists from neighbouring symphony orchestras also shared their expertise. Worapon Kanweerayothin (Bangkok Symphony) partnered Singapore’s Cheryl Lim seamlessly in Doppler’s Andante & Rondo, while Hristo Dobrinov (Malaysian Philharmonic) brought much polish and poise to Enesco’s Cantabile & Presto.

A most unusual contribution came from the sari-clad Sonia Croucher (Malaysian Philharmonic) who performed an evening raga Sandhyar Prahar on piccolo and flute with sitarist Kumar Karthigesu and Vick Ramakrishnan on tabla. Their trio was largely improvised, which threw in snatches of Bach’s Badinerie, Mozart’s Turkish Rondo and Ravel’s Bolero for a spicy mix.

Pride of place was the appearance of the Vienna Philharmonic’s Principal Flautist Wolfgang Schulz (above), who breezed through three works. The Austrian Herbert Willi’s atonal Piece was a tour de force of virtuosic tricks of the trade, contrasted by the more classical C.P.E Bach Sonata in G major and Mozart’s flowing Andante, ably accompanied by pianist Low Shao Suan.

Flute ensembles closed both evenings. The eleven members of the All Ladies Festival Flute Choir oozed glamour and elegance in movements from Gary Schocker’s Views from Falls House. All four flautists of the Singapore Symphony ganged up for Eugene Bozza’s Three Pieces and had a lark of a time. The grand finale fell to Bangkok’s Flute Ensemble Siang Nanachart (above) led by Hiroshi Matsushima, whose armamentarium spanned from the humble piccolo to the massive contrabass flute, resembling an organ pipe twisted into a figure of four.

Accompanied by piano and drums, the Thais entertained with a traditional melody Krao Ram, a medley from the musical Miss Saigon before blowing out infectious Puerto Rican rhythms in Bernstein’s America from West Side Story. The heady mix of reedy piccolos and low guttural grunts made for one of the most intriguing sounds of both evenings. Encore! 

A young flautist gives an impromptu performance at the foyer.

No comments: