Friday, 4 November 2016


with LIN XIU MIN, Piano
Esplanade Recital Studio
Thursday (3 November 2016)

On an evening when Ray Chen packed the crowds into Esplanade Concert Hall, Ukrainian violinist Oleksandr Korniev did very well to get a good house at the Esplanade Recital Studio. The final year Yong Siew Toh Conservatory student (from Qian Zhou's studio) has just won the first prize at the international violin competition in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and the audience got a taste of what real virtuosity was all about.

His mastery of solo works – Paganini's Caprice No.24 and Ysaye's Sixth Sonata – revealed an intricacy of articulation, perfect intonation and sumptuous tone, all accomplished with seemingly effortless ease. His innate feel for various native idioms also added significantly to the charms of Spaniard Sarasate's Romanza Andaluza and Kreisler's gypsy-inspired La Gitana.

The two major works Cesar Franck's Sonata in A major and Wieniawski's Faust Fantasy saw him partnered by Lin Xiu Min, a practising medical doctor rather than a professional accompanist pianist, on the piano. What was remarkable about Lin was he played all the piano parts completely from memory, and half the time with his eyes closed. The technical details in the second movement of the Franck had no terrors for him, while he generated an orchestral sound for the Wieniawski. Their sense of ensemble and rapport was generally excellent in both these virtuoso works, bringing out performances of genuine distinction.

This was a true partnership of uncommon equals, and their encore was a rhapsodic work of Central Asian flavour by Korniev's father, composed for him when he was ten years old as an exercise of some sort. Apparently this was a World Premiere, its extended opening solo (not unlike Ravel's Tzigane) soon gave way to a raucous dance with piano before finishing quietly in a soliloquy. It can be surmised that the audience who lapped up every moment of this spectacular concert did not miss Ray Chen for a single moment.

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