Wednesday, 16 March 2016

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, March 2016)

Nightberry 4260157020160 / ****1/2

The Low twins, Shao Suan and Shao Ying, are Singapore's premier piano duo, having performed Saint-Saens' Carnival Of The Animals the most times with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in its history. They are also composers of popular music including Mandopop songs and light concert music, the variety that usually accompanies animated movies and Asian romantic comedies. Think Joe Hisaishi or Ennio Morricone, and one is not far off the mark. 

This 70-minute anthology comprises wholly instrumental pieces, pleasing and likeable miniatures that are undemanding to the ears. The longest is the breezy 4-movement On Vacation by Ying, performed with freshness and clarity by the T'ang Quartet.

Their style is unpretentious and eclectic, and it is a fun pastime to spot the influences. Ying's Crossroads for four cellos conjures the bittersweet mood of Cinema Paradiso, and being French-schooled, her Valse De Printemps for two pianos could have come from the pen of Poulenc or Satie. Suan's Against All Odds for bassoon, vibraphone and piano is a clear tribute to Dave Brubeck's Blue Rondo Alla Turk, while Springtime In Munich is a quasi-Alpine romp in fast ländler rhythm. 

There is only one joint effort, Souvenir De Paris for two pianos, which captures the city's eternal lights by way of a quote from Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring. The sisters accompany an impressive list of local musicians in their own pieces, and the recorded performances are excellent.  

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