Wednesday, 23 November 2016

CD Review (The Straits Times, November 2016)

Onyx Classics 4156 / *****

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was the teacher of Carl Czerny (1791-1857), who in turn taught Franz Liszt (1811-1886). This illustrious relationship of masters and pupils that spanned three generations is celebrated in the 60th birthday programme of Singapore-born British pianist Melvyn Tan. He has mentored a number of young pianists himself, with his work at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. 

Beethoven, who had set the Romantic era in music on fire, is represented by his late music, the brief but highly expressive Six Bagatelles (Op.126) and Sonata No.30 in E major (Op.109).

The latter closes with a sublime set of variations, and this form is perpetuated in a far more florid manner in Czerny's Variations On A Theme By Rode (La Ricordanza), the decorative trend being in vogue with the early Romantics. Czerny's Funeral March, written upon Beethoven's death, is a tribute to his master's famous funeral marches from the Sonata in A flat major (Op.26) and Eroica Symphony. 

Liszt's Sonata in B minor, from the lofty heights of Romanticism, completes this generous 80-minute programme. While eschewing the blood and guts of a Argerich or Horowitz, Tan's breezy and totally musical account is neither short of passion nor dramatics, and offers a refreshing alternative to the barnstorming ones, 

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