Saturday, 16 June 2018


Heartiest congratulations are due for the Singapore International Piano Festival and its organisers, the Singapore Symphony Group, on the 25th Anniversary of its founding. In 1994, there was no culture of holding piano recital series in Singapore, and the Festival then became the brightest fixture of the local concert season for many years. 

The biggest coup of the silver anniversary was bringing Argentine supervirtuoso Martha Argerich in for her Southeast Asian debut. According to Artistic Director Lionel Choi, this was the first time La Martha had performed in Asia and Australia outside of her Japanese and Korean dates. This would be the musical equivalent the historic Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un summit in Singapore, also held within the same days. 

The first concert on Monday 11 June featured La Martha and Argentine pianist-conductor in 4-hand piano music. The second concert on 13 June had both pianists performing piano concertos with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. For many, that was certainly the highlight of the festival.

Dario Ntaca first performed Mozart's Piano Concerto No.17,
directing the orchestra from the keyboard.
It was a very musical reading, and was accorded
much polite and receptive applause.
The main event, however, was
Martha Argerich performing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.3,
with Ntaca conducting from the podium
Martha Argerich is still a phenomenal pianist,
even for someone 77 years old. 
It was incredible with what she could still do with
her fingers in this demanding showpiece.
Turning back the clock, the performance had the
same vehemence and spirit as her famous recording
with Claudio Abbado from the 1960s.
She's still got that mojo,
and the audience loved every bit of it.
She loved the audience too.
Trying to pluck a rose for concertmaster Lynnette Seah
was the most difficult thing she did all night!
La Martha obliged with two encores.
First was Scarlatti's treacherous Sonata in D minor,
K.141 also known as the "Guitar" because of
its repeated notes and crossing of hands. 
The second encore was
Debussy's La Soirée dans Grenade from Estampes.
It was truly a memorable evening which
many will never forget for years to come.

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