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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." - G. K. Chesterton


Potpourri by NUS Piano Ensemble

The concert was generally pleasant, but for 2 songs. Poulenc's Sonata for Piano Four Hands, being a 20th century piece, was bad enough and full of "see how clever I am" elements (of course, at the expense of a tune), but worse was Kwan Rui's "Forbidden core", played by the composer himself (and a female ensemble member).

The description of the piece:

"Have you ever tried to get to know someone better as a friend but realised that he or she has decided to remain at status quo? Some prefer to to know others at a deeper level while some are happy with getting to another person just skin deep. Yet, no matter how deep the relationship between 2 individuals is, there will always be a sphere of secrets, emotions, fears, desires and beliefs that an individual would want to keep to one's self.

This is the forbidden core."

In short, it sounds like he just got rejected.

The piece opened with the female partner playing. Then he walked in slowly while gazing downward, step by step, as if in a dance. When he got to the piano he sat down to her left and started playing. From time to time he kept reaching over to her side to play some notes. At the end of the song, she got up, went over to his left and played some notes.

Musically it was even worse. There was a melodyless theme which was mostly a repetition of 2 chords and their transpositions. Meanwhile the cacophony was worsened by the constant disruption of abrupt, dischordant chords.

The rest of the concert had pieces by Moszkowski, Chopin, Faure, Aletter, Medtner, Gottschalk, Infante and Leschetizsky (ie All Romantic and later. Oh well. At least I'll get to hear Zukerman and the Russian National Orchestra play some Baroque stuff in 2 Thursdays' time!).

Probably the most impressive was the Leschetizsky piece - Andante Finale Op. 13 (a paraphrase of the Sextet "chi me frena in tal momento" from Donizetti's opera "lucia di lammermoor") - for the Left Hand, played by a German (?) exchange student named Therese. I'd heard pieces for the Left Hand before but to see them performed live is a different experience as you see the dexterity required and the use of the sustain pedal to compensate for the lack of the other hand.

Logistically, they had the ingenious idea of projecting the program notes on a screen. Besides allowing them to be longer, to make use of colour and clipart and the audience to read them in the dark, this also saved on printing costs and protected the environment. Excellent.

The last curiosity was why, of the 16 performers, only 2 were male. I'm told that although females slightly outnumber the males, the guys are either on exchange or didn't want to play.
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