Monday, 27 August 2012

JED HUANG Flute Recital with MIYUKI WASHIMIYA / Review

JED HUANG Flute Recital
Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (25 August 2012)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 27 August 2012 with the title "Flautist Jed Huang shines".

Violin, piano and vocal recitals by debutante musicians are becoming more common now but concerts featuring solo woodwind instruments are still rarities. So thanks go to the Kris Foundation for presenting talented young flautist Jed Huang Jia Jia, recent recipient of the FJ Benjamin-SSO Bursary and student of the prestigious Ecole Normale in Paris. 

His recital was a demanding one, but this stylish performer maintained a cool front throughout. Opening with just the slower first half of Franz Doppler’s Hungarian Pastoral Fantasy, his attention to finer points, colouring each slur and grace-note with thoughtful detail and much feeling, showed him to be both sensitive and meticulous. This continued into Saint-Saens’s Romance which luxuriated in a smooth seamless cantabile.

The rest of the first half belonged to Schubert. First, pianist Washimiya polished off the lyrical G Flat Major Impromptu with song-like finesse, and the rustic Moment Musicaux No.3 with a twinkle and smile. Just light-hearted diversions before Schubert’s major work for flute, Introduction and Variations on Tröckne Blumen. Running over 20 minutes, both flautist and pianist were put to the test and made to work overtime.

There was a longish prelude, where Huang’s rounded and full-bodied tone impressed, and the simple theme of the lied from the song cycle Die Schöne Mullerin was heard. The seven variations that followed got increasingly more complex and virtuosic, but the duo never flinched as the notes piled up relentlessly. The performance, resolute but never feeling laboured, came close to the evening’s tour de force.  

The second half began with an agreeable Mozart Rondo and Chinese flautist-composer Tan Mizi’s Flute and Drums By Sunset for solo flute. The latter called for the flautist to gently tap on the keys of his instrument, which produced a softly pitched percussive timbre. The soliloquy itself was highly evocative of scenes from Chinese paintings, and Huang played as if owned the piece. This sympathy is not surprisingly as the 1980 work was dedicated to his father Huang Shao Jiang, former Principle Flautist of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 

The final item of the concert was a satisfying reading of Cesar Franck’s Sonata In A Major, originally written for the violin. Given its sheer mellifluousness, flautists have assumed it as one of their own. Both musicians were well matched, and given the complexity of the piano part, Washimiya was ever so mindful not to overwhelm her partner especially in the rapturous second movement. Huang encountered some difficulties in the hymn-like canon of a finale, but recovered well to close with aplomb.

The encore, popular Chinese melody Colourful Clouds Chasing The Moon, was icing on the cake. Jed Huang, a highly perceptive musical soul, is a name for the future.   

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