Monday, 9 December 2013


Esplanade Recital Studio
Friday (6 December 2013)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 9 December 2013 with the title "Technicolor treats".

“More Than Music” is a new series of concerts initiated by young Singaporean musicians Abigail Sin and Loh Jun Hong to bring classical music closer to beginners and neophytes, through an informal and interactive approach that is accessible yet does not dumb down.

In Once Upon A Time, a concert presented by the Kris Foundation, the duo performed a 90-minute-long programme of light classics and short works, leading listeners through each piece by relating stories of their own. The hall was decorated resembling a classroom, with portraits of seven composers on easels looking fondly on the performers.

Loh’s selection of violin works was romantically inclined, and the subject of composers’ love lives figured prominently in his preambles. Thus Edward Elgar’s Salut d’amour (Love’s Greeting) was an appropriate opener, showcasing his full and sweet string tone, one which he could emote and wallow unabashedly in sentimentality.

Such are the qualities of the violin, which resembles the full palette of singer’s voice. In Dvorak’s Romance in F minor (Op.11), deeper emotions were explored as the melancholy of unrequited love found a passionate release in its central climax. 

Loh’s range comfortably encompassed these extremes, as in Wieniawski’s Legend, where darkness turned into light as the work’s brooding open gave way to the a joyous outburst before its quiet end. Sin accompanied with much sensitivity on the piano, casting frequent glances at her partner.

Her solos were more varied, which included the baroque, romantic and impressionist pieces. She spoke more analytically on these, explaining how music could imitate sounds in nature as well as express feelings. In Ravel’s Oiseaux Tristes (Sad Birds) and Alborada del gracioso (Morning Dance Of The Jester), she brought out Technicolor shades in both tone paintings, although the glissandi in the latter could have been more flamboyant.

Her complete mastery of contrapuntal playing in J.S.Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, besides conveying every nuance and mood in this programmatic work, suggests a supreme Bach interpreter in the making. In Chopin’s late Barcarolle, she chose to eschew surface glitter, highlighting instead its more turbulent undercurrents which equated Venice with death and decay.

The duo completed the evening with Tchaikovsky’s bubbly Waltz-Scherzo, a virtuoso showpiece which pulled out all the stops. A reprise of Elgar’s number one hit was a much enjoyed encore, after which the audience was invited to a champagne reception. Indeed, much more than music had been served. 
Concert photographs courtesy of Chrisppics+

The families of Loh Jun Hong and Abigail Sin
with Kris Tan of the Kris Foundation.
Abigail & Jun Hong 2013.

Jun Hong (left) and Abigail (right) in 2000
at the SSO Children's Music Marathon.
 Additional photos by PianoManiac.

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