BEST CLASSICAL CONCERTS OF 2012
(as published in The Sunday Times on 24 December 2012)
BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTO CYCLE
Lim Yan, Piano with The Philharmonic Orchestra
School of the Arts Concert Hall, June 2012
History was made when LIM YAN became the first Singaporean pianist to perform all five Beethoven piano concertos in a cycle here. This feat was accomplished over three evenings, playing completely from memory and crafting his own cadenzas. Partnered by The Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lim Yau, he was also the pianist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. He later completed the grand slam with Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy at the Esplanade 10th Anniversary Concert in October.
Of the emerging young Singaporean musicians, honours were even for the best début performances by violinist SEE IAN IKE, in recital with pianist Miyuki Washimiya (Esplanade Recital Studio, 18 August 2012) playing a wonderful programme of Bach, Brahms and Ravel, and soprano TENG XIANG TING, a law graduate singing the lead role of Adina in New Opera Singapore’s production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore. Their confident and highly accomplished performances can stand scrutiny in any corner of the musical world.
The Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Lim Yau
with Ueno Koshuzan, Shakuhachi
School of the Arts Concert Hall,
8 September 2012
Conductor Lim Yau has become even busier after leaving the post of SSO Resident Conductor to become Head of Music at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. His first love is still choral music, and The Philharmonic Chamber Choir continues to break new ground in programming, juxtaposing Renaissance music of Palestrina, Taverner and Gesualdo with the haunting strains of Zen master Ueno Koshuzan’s shakuhachi (bamboo flute). Seldom have two completely diverse art forms shared a spiritual kinship and shone with unusual synergy.
Most Disappointing Concert of 2012
THE FLIGHT OF THE JADE BIRD
Esplanade Concert Hall, 20 May 2012
For all its hype, the Pan-Asian quasi-opera by Mark Chan fell far short of the sum of its parts, its intermittently interesting music bogged down by an over-fussy English libretto and running for an unwieldy and convoluted 140 minutes. Big and long does not always mean better. Why hadn’t the Singapore Arts Festival taken on John Sharpley and Robert Yeo’s opera Fences instead?