Wednesday, 28 June 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, June 2017)

KAM NING, Violin
Etcetera 1582 / *****

TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade for Strings
D'HAENE Waar Conraet Is Turner
Het Kammerorkest Brugge / KAM NING
Etcetera 1531 / ****1/2

Prize-winning Singaporean violinist Kam Ning has been busy in the recording studio. These two recordings released by the Dutch label Etcetera amply display her abilities as chamber musician and orchestra leader.

The first is a recital disc highlighting her incisive yet sensitive playing and ultimately lovely string tone. The three contrasted works have a common factor: that is fondly looking back at past musical traditions. Mendelssohn's very congenial Violin Sonata in F major, a throw-back to Mozart, makes a excellent prelude to Stravinsky's Suite Italienne

The latter comprises dance movements from his ballet Pulcinella, which recycled music from baroque composers Pergolesi and others. Prokofiev's retrospective and  melodically driven Violin Sonata No.2 provides a sure-fire virtuosic conclusion.

Kam Ning also leads the Het Kammerorkest from Brugge, Belgium to great success. The rarity is Belgian composer Rafael D'Haene's concerto for two violins and string orchestra When Conraets Is Turner, three movements of tonal modernism inspired by impressionist paintings by Belgian impressionist Jean Conraets. 

Sounding both strident and ethereal, the work brings to mind Tippett's Fantasia Concertante On Corelli and Bartok's Divertimento. As a final treat, Tchaikovsky's Serenade For Strings, a perennial favourite, reminds one and all why we love string music so much. 

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