THE CLASSICAL ELEMENTS
ALBERT TIU, Piano
Centaur 3503 / *****
The Philippines-born and Singapore-based pianist Albert Tiu has come up with another winner in his second solo album on the American Centaur label. The Classical Elements comprises four suites of five pieces each, inspired by the ancient notion of Earth, Air, Water and Fire as the four pillars of the natural world.
Each suite includes one of Luciano Berio's Encores, entitled Erdenklavier, Luftklavier, Wasserklavier and Feuerklavier respectively, which are surprisingly accessible short pieces. Debussy, the master of musical impressionism, is also sine qua non, with his Hills Of Anacapri, Wind On The Plains, Reflections In The Water and Fireworks as programming pivots.
Tiu's other selections are excellent, with warhorses by Liszt, Ravel and Rachmaninov, and rarities like Godowsky's Gardens Of Buitenzorg, Griffes' Night Winds, Ibert's Wind In The Ruins and Mompou's The Lake, all evocatively coloured. His touch is variegated and exquisitely weighted, and often each piece flows seamlessly into the next.
All are virtuoso pieces, and he pulls out all stops in Louis Brassin's transcription of Wagner's Magic Fire Music from The Valkyrie and Scriabin's Vers La Flamme (Towards The Flame). The fever-pitch in this 80-minute recital is also mirrored by the psychedelic cover design. Simply unmissable.
Piano Recital: Grand Russian
TCHAIKOVSKY Grand Sonata
RACHMANINOV Sonata No.1
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall
Friday, 7 October 2016 at 7.30 pm
Free admission by Registration
MEDTNER PLAYS MEDTNER Vol.II
NIKOLAI MEDTNER, Piano
Melodiya 10 02274 (2 CDs) / *****
The grossly underrated music of Russian composer Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951) has enjoyed a renaissance thanks to the advocacy of pianists like Nikolai Demidenko, Marc-Andre Hamelin and Hamish Milne. Medtner's own recordings however have pride of place, especially those of his three piano concertos which are classics of the late Romantic repertoire.
Gathered in a single album for the first time, these deserve special acclaim for their authority and authenticity. Recorded in 1947 with The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by George Weldon (Concerto No.1) and Issay Dobrowen (Concertos Nos.2 & 3), with sponsorship by the Maharajah of Mysore, these reveal Medtner as an adroit and mercurial pianist.
Medtner’s interpretations inform and influence the modern interpretation of his music far more than most other contemporary composer in their own compositions. The use of recurrent motifs lends tautness and unity despite the sprawling structure, and these repay more dividends than his close friend Rachmaninov's piano concertos on further listening.
The Third Concerto, arguably his best, carries the subtitle “Ballade” and takes on an inexorable sweep through its three connected movements. This is astutely coupled with his rhapsodic Sonata-Ballade, a masterpiece of thematic development and counterpoint, which is similarly inspired. These performances are essentially listening for all true pianophiles.