Monday, 2 September 2013

THE ASIAN PIANIST: AZARIAH TAN Piano Recital / Photographs

Singaporean AZARIAH TAN PENG CHAY was the third pianist to appear in The Asian Pianist recital series organised by Singapore Conference Hall. He is also the most recent artist selected for the Young Virtuoso Recital, which has been an ongoing series and platform for Singapore's most talented young pianists since 2005. The previous Young Virtuoso featured was Abigail Sin who performed her recital at the same venue on 5 May 2013.

An hour before the recital commenced, a Pianophile Forum was held where invited panellists shared with the audience a selection of their favourite recordings by Asian pianists. The "expert panel" comprised Dr Kevin Tan (Law lecturer and former President of the Singapore Heritage Society), Mr Phan Ming Yen (former Straits Times critic, former The Arts Magazine editor, present Republic Polytechnic lecturer), Mr Victor Khor (concert pianist and alumnus of the Moscow Conservatory) and yours truly.

On the right, Victor Khor plays his I-pad for curious listeners.
The Vietnamese Dang Thai Son is his favourite Asian pianist.

No recordings by Lang Lang, Yundi or Yuja Wang were aired. Instead snippets from Li Ming Qiang (playing Enesco and Chopin), Raul Sunico (Saint-Saëns), Dang Thai Son (Rachmaninov and Mozart), Minoru Nojima (Liszt), Akira Eguchi (Franck) and Esther Budiardjo (Godowsky) were offered. The little audience in the Exhibition Hall was transfixed.  

The lighting in the hall ensured that
Azariah was a glittering presence!

Azariah Tan's piano recital was the main event, of course. It was a very well-balanced programme which had a bit of everything. He opened with J.S.Bach's Partita No.5 in G major and Mozart's Sonata in B flat major K.333, yielding performances of true musicality, style and not a bit of showmanship. 

After the interval, he gave a short preamble on a newly commissioned work by Singapore-based composer Kawai Shiu called Zraz Za, an atonal contemplation on Chopin's A minor Prelude (Op.28 No.2) which is a play on both Azariah's name and the the two syllables of Chop-In. He thanked the Very Special Arts, his very loyal supporters over the years, for commissioning the work.

The composer Kawai Shiu (right) acknowledges
Azariah's World Premiere of Zraz Za.

Azariah completed his programme with Chopin's Berceuse, Fourth Ballade and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.12. His sensitivity showed in the short cradle song, while he let rip for the virtuoso pieces that closed the recital. His free-wheeling style in the Liszt was particularly impressive, and sent the house into raptures. He performed two encores, both Chopin Études, Op.10 No.3 (E major) and Op.25 No.9 (G flat major).

Azariah is presently his Honours degree at the University of Michigan, and he had to fly off at 3 am the next morning! We certainly look forward to his next recital in Singapore. 

Signing autographs can be hard work too!

The University connection: (From L to R) Dr Kawai Shiu, Prof. Albert Tiu and Prof. Seah Kar Heng (Mechanical Engineering, NUS), Dr Christina Tan (School of the Arts) and Prof. Bernard Lanskey (Head, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory)

Azariah had a legion of Filipino fans, and here they meet
the Pinoy Piano Idol Albert Tiu,
who was Azariah's principal teacher at the Conservatory.  

(From L to R): Geoffery Yu, Guy Hentsch, Prof. Thomas Hecht
(Head of Piano, YST), Florence Fauls (former SSO Programme Executive) and Mike Fauls.

Azariah with his piano teacher Winnie Tay (extreme right),
Angelyn Aw (3rd from R) and piano students. 

Meeting of the Tan clan: (From L to R): Dr Tan Chay Hoon (Aza's mother), Dr Christina Tan,
Mr Leslie Tan (Aza's father), Aza, Dr and Mrs Kevin Tan.

Aza with the Singapore Conference Hall staff.

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