Monday, 17 December 2012

TWISTERS / re:mix / Review


Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (15 December 2012)
This review was published in The Straits Times on 17 December 2012 with the title "Old music nicely re:mixed".
Twisters is local crossover band re:mix’s tribute to the pastiche. A pastiche is a work that borrows from the past, either wholesale or modified to confront the present. Whether crafted tongue-in-cheek or as a serious salute to hallowed tradition, nobody does it better than re:mix and its leader, violinist-conductor Foo Say Ming.
The concert opened with Zechariah Goh Toh Chai’s PD Cues Bach Invention, commissioned as an imagined Bachian treatment of Paul Desmond and the late Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. Using a French overture, exemplified by the first movement of Bach’s Second Orchestral Suite, as its model, the theme was so well hidden amidst the fugal counterpoint as to be almost elusive.
J.S.Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto in its original form with significant harpsichord and flute solos may be considered the first major keyboard concerto of the classical canon. Partnering superb flautist Cheryl Lim, harpsichordist Shane Thio emerged from within the basso continuo as a bona fide soloist, culminating with a stunning and almost improvisatory cadenza in the first movement. The applause, although mistimed, was so spontaneous and prolonged that latecomers were mistakenly ushered into the hall as if the work had ended!
Bach served as the inspiration for the 1965 Jazz Concerto by the Austro-Briton Joseph Horovitz, no relation to the Russian pianist or American music critic. There was something dated about the written-out jazz from the Beatles era, but its bluesy, syncopated tinkling from Thio’s harpsichord and rhythmic drumbeats of Tama Goh resounded like the freewheeling style of the much-in-vogue Ukrainian jazzman Nikolai Kapustin.
As if proving that musical styles - like fashion trends – make cyclical comebacks like well-flung boomerangs, the final work showed the durability of the tango, not by Argentine Astor Piazzolla but Frenchman Darius Milhaud, who spent time in Brazil as a minor diplomat. His Cinema Fantaisie or Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (Ox On The Roof), a riotous ballet with an absurd Dadaist-like story, saw re:mix at its imperious best.
Director Foo at full flight, helming its virtuosic solo, is one of Singapore’s most exciting artists. One really feels his driving passion, and his charges responded with similar verve and ebullience for a spirited close. To complete the 80-minute concert, the ensemble offered as encore Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, added cheer for an already splendid afternoon.      

Note: Foo Say Ming is proud to recount that Shane Thio and Tama Goh were the pianist and drummer at the Singapore premiere of the Horovitz Jazz Concerto, performed by the Singapore Symphony conducted by Lim Yau during the mid-1990s. 

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