Monday, 26 August 2013


The Hong Kong pianist MARY MEI-LOC WU was the second pianist to be featured in The Asian Pianist Recital Series presented by Singapore Conference Hall. Her piano recital took place on Sunday 25 August 2013, and she performed works by Bach-Busoni, Ravel, Gershwin, Chopin, Bright Sheng, Zhou Long, Victor Chan and Joyce Tang. A requisite of this series is that pianists must perform music from their country of origin. On this occasion, Mary performed pieces from four Chinese composers, which include two composers from Hong Kong. Needless to say, all these performances were Singapore premieres, while Images, Colours by Joyce Tang was a World Premiere. 

The recital was preceded by a pre-concert talk by local music historian Phan Ming Yen on the subject of The Rise of the Asian Pianist. Always interesting and thought-provoking, he suggested that the higher profile Asian pianists assume on the world stage today might be due to Western classical music seeking a new market in Asia, with the rise of the middle classes in the nations of the Far East. He introduced some interesting but lesser known Asian pianists who made their name in the 1950s and 60s, such as the Japanese Kiyoko Tanaka and Chinese Liu Shih Kun, by some rare recordings. He also intimated that great Asian pianists had existed 50 years ago, and may even be better than the current high profile lot represented by Lang Lang and Yundi.  

A rapt audience listening to some historical Asian piano recordings.

Mary's recital opened at 7 pm with a performance of the Bach-Busoni chorale prelude Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christe.  This was followed by a stunning reading of Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit. Notice how Singapore Conference Hall uses different projections to accompany the various works. These were not chosen in conjunction with the ongoing Singapore Night Festival!

The four Chinese works performed were Bright Sheng's My Song, Victor Chan's Passion Within (inspired by the aftermath of the 2003 SARS tragedy in Hong Kong), Zhou Long's Wu Kui (Hunter's Dance) and Joyce Tang's  Images, Colours. In certain ways, these were the most interesting works because some of the Chinese idioms and rhythms used showed a shared heritage with the better known scores of Bartok and Ginastera. Chan's piece had even a New Age and gospel sensibility to it, while Tang's three-movement work, dedicated to Mary Wu, was impressionistic. All the works were tonal and very accessible.

Pastel blue, with no moving images, was used as the backdrop for
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, naturally! Fortunately this was
the same setting used for Chopin's Third Sonata.

Despite the small audience, Mary Wu's recital was very well received, and she performed two encores, Albeniz's Evocacion from Iberia Book 1, and I Got Rhythm from The Gershwin Songbook.

More work after the recital, signing autographs!

Mary Wu meets with Azariah Tan, who performs in the next recital on 1 September 2013,
and members of The Asian Pianist artistic team.
All photographs by the kind permission of Singapore Conference Hall.

No comments: