Monday, 30 March 2015


Just love piano music but cannot wait till the annual Singapore International Piano Festival? Here is a recital by one of the piano world's most interesting and intrepid pianists, Kenneth Hamilton.

His annual offering on Sunday 5 April at the Esplanade Recital Studio (7.30 pm) is a recital wholly of fantasies for the piano. Here is the full programme listing:

BEETHOVEN Fantasy, Op.77
SCHUMANN Fantasie in C major, Op.17
CHOPIN Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op.61
The Last Rose of Summer
HANDEL-LISZT Almira Paraphrase
VERDI-LISZT Rigoletto Paraphrase

Sunday, 5 April 2015 at 7.30 pm
Esplanade Recital Studio
Tickets still available at SISTIC

For more about Kenneth Hamilton's interesting programme, check out this INTERVIEW with Natalie Ng where he displays his usual erudition and good humour:

Here's what I had to say about Kenneth Hamilton's previous performances in Singapore in my Foreword to his latest recital. Hope that helps in persuading you to attend another masterly evening of piano music!:

It gives me great pleasure in welcoming back Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton for yet another exciting and intriguing recital of piano music.

I first got to meet Ken after his first Esplanade Recital Studio recital in 2007, when I was the Artistic Director of the Singapore International Piano Festival. Then I was busily involved in planning thematic programmes around specific piano repertoire, incorporating the great Romantic works for piano by Chopin, Liszt, Godowsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Medtner and their like. Some of the themes had included The Golden Age of The Piano (in 2006) and Lisztomania: The Art of Virtuosity (2007), and then out of the blue came an invitation from the University of Birmingham to attend a piano recital entitled An Orchestra At The Keyboard by some Professor Kenneth Hamilton.

Having never heard of Kenneth Hamilton before, I wondered what sort of crazy person would programme Chopin’s Funeral March Sonata, Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and Alkan’s Aesop’s Feast in the same recital, and then offer the Sousa-Horowitz The Stars and Stripes Forever as an encore. In short, the zaniest programmer of piano festivals (a title I would gladly claim) had met his match in the most intrepid and adventurous of pianists, a sort of David Livingstone meets Indiana Jones on the keyboard.    

The reference to the great explorer Livingstone is probably apt because he too was Scottish, and Hamilton’s explorations in the more arcane alleyways of the piano literature and the missionary zeal in which he applies himself to his pursuits are just astounding. Not just satisfied with promoting Liszt, Alkan, hyphenated-Bach and Busoni, he has also been an indefatigable proselytiser of John Ireland (who was English despite his name) and fellow Scotsman Ronald Stevenson.

Here are the themes which Ken has created in his Singapore recitals down the years:

2007: An Orchestra At The Keyboard
2008: Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions
2009: Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions - Encore!
2011: The Virtuoso Liszt
2012: 200 Years Of The Piano
2013: Romantic Masterpieces
2014: Back To Bach

Titles alone do not do justice to the wealth of piano treats he has bestowed on Singaporean audiences, including Singaporean premieres of the Hexameron (by 6 Romantic composers including Liszt and Chopin), Alkan’s transcription of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.20 and Alkan’s own devilish Concerto for Solo Piano. You may call him a one-man piano festival.

As the author of After The Golden Age, a treatise on piano performance practice in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Ken has had on occasion put preaching into practice. Who can forget the time when he came out and serenaded the audience while they were finding their seats, or the art of preluding, when he doodled for a few moments before actually playing a work, or interluding by improvising between pieces? All these are is part and parcel of being a pianist from a bygone era, and Ken with his inimitable manner of introducing each work never fails to engage his audience.  

This evening, he delves into the world of fantasies with yet another delicious selection of works written in the free form (hence the word fantasy, as opposed to the boring old sonata form), some familiar and others less so. One thing is for certain, be prepared to be entertained, enthralled and enlightened.     

Chang Tou Liang
Former Artistic Director,
Singapore International Piano Festival

No comments: