Monday, 20 August 2012

SUMMER ROSES / See Ian Ike Violin Recital / Review

SEE IAN IKE Violin Recital
Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (18 August 2012)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 20 August 2012 with the title "Effortless artistry in debut solo recital".

Another summer, another young Singaporean violinist returns to give an impressive debut recital. This time, it is the turn of See Ian Ike, who studied privately with violinists Sylvia Khoo and Qian Zhou, and at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and was recently appointed Associate Concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

See is, however, no stranger to the musical scene having won numerous local awards, performed in outreach concerts with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, besides giving a splendid performance of Bruch’s First Violin Concerto with the Orchestra of the Music Makers in 2010. This was his first public solo recital, and what a splash it made.

The unaccompanied violin music of Bach provided an unequivocal survey of his artistry. The Preludium of the Third Partita, normally a treacherous study of prestidigitation, sounded almost effortless in his hands. It was not just the facility of execution that was unquestionable, but his crystal-clear projection allied with perfect intonation. The movements that followed were fluent and joyfully wrought, fully cognizant of their origins as period dances.  

He has an unfussy view of the magnificent Chaconne from the Second Partita, its short variations unfolding majestically as his conception of the movement’s architecture gained stature with every phrase and gesture. That he allows the music to speak for itself was a plus, and his elucidation of its wonders a revelation.  

Two further sonatas partnered by the marvellous Japanese pianist Miyuki Washimiya completed the picture. First it was Brahms’s autumnal Second Sonata, its song-like subjects flowing with a mellifluousness and musicality that was hard to resist. See’s violin soared above the dense piano textures, and bantered playfully with the piano in the contrasting section of the middle movement.   

Washimiya was every bit an equal partner in this venture, the plethora of colours she yielded was dazzling, and matched by See in every turn. This was even more apparent in Ravel’s Sonata in G major, where the fiendishly tricky play of polytonality could have wreaked havoc, but both held their nerve and a bit more. The Blues movement had genuine swagger, with violin pizzicatos simulating the plucked banjo, and knowing slurs and insinuating slides adding to the music’s sultry exoticism.

The pep and energy in the finale’s perpetual motion provided a thrilling conclusion while bringing down a well-filled house. The encore, It Ain’t Necessarily So from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess by way of Heifetz, was a real tease. The Kris Foundation, which supports young talent by presenting this evening’s treats, has backed another sure winner.   

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