PIANO MUSIC BY
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO & JOE HISAISHI
Victor Khor, Piano at Zouk
4 December 2014)
This review was published in The Straits Times on 6 December 2014 with the title "Zealous pianist scores in Zouk for a good cause".
When it comes to piano recitals, few pianists in
dare to venture into the
peripheries of piano repertoire or perform in unusual venues as Victor Khor. For
someone equally at home with the music by Bach, Rachmaninov and Radiohead, it
would come as little surprise to hear him in the scores of popular Japanese
film composers Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, played in the unlikely
setting of the disco hall in fave nightspot Zouk. Singapore
All this was also for a good cause, as his performance raised funds and increased awareness for the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). This was all the more relevant as great composer Bela Bartok and legendary pianist Dinu Lipatti both died of leukaemia before a definitive cure was found, and tenor Jose Carreras was saved by a bone marrow transplant. All it needs now are for potential donors to volunteer and save lives.
The first half belonged to Hisaishi’s music, with six pieces performed on solo piano. The
, W.Nocturne and The Post
Modern Life were mostly slow short works in ternary (three part) form,
pop-inspired, fully tonal and amenable to easy listening. Typically meditative
to begin, each developed to a chord-laden central climax before receding quietly
to nothingness. Wind Forest
Khor played with a pile of scores throughout, and could have done with an assistant to avert awkward page-turns and accidents caused by draughts, which came close to disrupting the flow of the pieces. Eventually a violinist came forward to steady the leaves and salve the pianist’s nerves.
Four other Hisaishi pieces were performed with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra conducted by young Taiwanese conductor Brian Liao, which added an extra layer of harmonies. Hatsukoi flowed with a Mozartian simplicity with its Alberti bass while Ashitaka And Son rose to a climax alla Rachmaninov, boosted by woodwinds and percussion. Princess Mononoke featured a yangqin and a dance choreographed by Kwok Min Li of the
, with a holographic
projection by Digimagic. Singapore Ballet Academy
Sakamoto’s music is arguably better known, through the worldwide distribution of his award winning film soundtracks. His styles and forms used were also more varied. Solo oboe, flute with strings accompanied Energy Flow, while solo violin graced the Ending Theme of Seven Samurai. The imagery of dark clouds and interesting harmonic progressions distinguished The Sheltering Sky, the film based on Paul Bowles’s best-selling 1949 novel.
The two best-known scores were performed last. Khor’s evenness of fingering brought out well the familiar figurations of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, the Pacific war movie starring David Bowie, and the melancholic life of Aisin Gioro Puyi was portrayed in the bittersweet music of The Last Emperor. Khor’s advocacy of this music approached missionary zeal, and like everything he does, there are no half measures. Musical and humane causes have an ardent champion.