The mood on Eason Chan's latest Cantonese album after 2013's more varied The Key, is sweet and optimistic.
The tone is set by lead single Unconditional, a ballad about loving someone through all the vagaries and challenges of life. It is a song which plays to Chan's strength as an emotive singer. Come what may, he croons: "I only know to love you every day."
Heart On Fire and To Like Someone are two more Eric Kwok-composed tracks tailor- made for Chan to make you gently swoon.
And the jangly opener Boss, I'm Leaving Early puts a lighthearted spin on escaping the pressures of work.
This being an Eason Chan album, some curveballs are thrown in.
The later half of the album includes the atmospheric The Halloween Nightmare and the gentle rumination of Monologue From One Soul. The moving lesson learnt: "Whether I was right or wrong in the past, it's too trivial to bicker about now/But I want to say that love is never a burden."
THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS
Lu Siqing, Violin
Taipei Chinese Orchestra/Chung Yiu-Kwong
BIS 2104 / 4.5/5 stars
Given China's inexorable rise as an economic power and a cultural giant, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's Butterfly Lovers Concerto sitting pretty alongside violin repertoire favourites has become inevitable.
Gil Shaham (with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra) had previously coupled Butterfly Lovers with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, but this new recording is wholly accompanied by Chinese instruments.
Chinese violinist Lu Siqing cements his place as one of the work's most persuasive advocates with this moving account, which also boasts the best sound on CD.
The traditional instruments of the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, in the arrangement by its conductor Chung Yiu-kwong, also lend a touch of the authentic. Does the evocative introduction not sound better with dizi than the modern flute? At its climaxes, the piercing sound of suonas adds to the pathos of the music.
Its fillers include Wie- niawski's Legende, which receives an idiomatic arrangement by award-winning young Singaporean composer Wang Chenwei. That's globalisation for you.
J.S.BACH CONCERTOS FOR 2 HARPSICHORDS
Masaaki & Masato
BIS 2051/ 5/5 stars
BOOK IT /MASAAKI&
(with the Singapore
- WHERE: Victoria Concert Hall
- WHEN: Aug 27 & 28, 7.30pm
- ADMISSION: $20 to $72 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.sg)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) left the world with just three concertos for two keyboards (all dating from 1736), which seems like a real pity.
These are some of his most enjoyable concertos, not just because of its melodic content or digital virtuosity, but also its immaculate play of counterpoint.
No autograph scores exist, but two of these - both in the key of C minor - will be familiar to listeners in their other guises.
The best known is BWV. 1062, which has the same music as the famous Double Violin Concerto in D minor (BWV. 1043).
The work sounds slightly different now, with the busyness of both harpsichords replacing the more pared-down violin textures.
The other, BWV. 1060, is more regularly heard as the Concerto For Violin And Oboe, distinguished by one of Bach's most beautiful slow movements.
The Concerto In C Major (BWV. 1061) is his most cheerful and extroverted keyboard concerto by far.
The father and son combo of Masaaki and Masato Suzuki on two harpsichords are ideally matched and the balance struck with the accompanying string players is close to perfection.
The bonus is Masato's transcription for two keyboards of Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 1, conceived idiomatically as if the master wrote it himself.
A delightful disc all round.
Chang Tou Liang