The gathering of members of the Chan and Lim families to perform two nights of chamber music at the Esplanade Recital Studio was a noteworthy affair, and one that needed considerable planning and preparation.
From the Lim family were oboist Veda Lin and her brother Lin Juan on cello, cousin Lim Yan and his wife Koh Jia Hwei, both on piano. The Chans were represented by siblings Yoong Han and Si Ning, alternating on violin and viola, brother Si Han and their uncle Wei Shing on cellos, and Wei Shing's wife, soprano Jeong Ae Ree. Also part of the concerts was Dan Gelok, although he was only slated for Wednesday's programme.
Ernst von Dohnanyi's Serenade For String Trio, written in five movements in a style that harked back to the serenades of Dvorak and Brahms, was a perfect fit for the Chan siblings to open the concert. They handled the challenging scherzo and final presto movements handily and with verve, and played with good ensemble and energy, although the youngest player, Si Han sometimes sounded reticent.
Two short sets followed. First on were three Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn arranged for oboe/English horn and piano, with Jia Hwei on piano. The oboe and English horn were given the limelight in the arrangement, and Veda Lin's rounded tone and well judged vibrato made one feel that the set was over all too soon.
Next on were Jeong Ae Ree and Lim Yan with two songs - An den Mond, D.193 by Schubert and Solveig's Song by Grieg. Yan's light touch provided sensitive accompaniment to match Jeong's warm tone and she nailed the delicate octave leaps in the Grieg unerringly.
The major work of the evening was the unattributed Kreutzer transcription for cello quintet. Closely mirroring Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata for piano and violin, the quality of composition and faithfulness to the sonata suggest that it was transcribed by the composer himself. The highly demanding sonata parts for violin and piano are masterfully apportioned to the two violins, viola and two cellos of the quintet, each part still highly demanding, without favour to first violin.
The quintet consisting of Yoong Han and guest musician Lim Shue Chern on violins, Si Ning on viola and Wei Shing and Lin Juan on cellos played very strongly and coherently, with Shue Chern showing off brilliant fingering and sweet tone and Juan sailing through in his tricky passages.
The talented musicians of the two families could just as well have enjoyed playing the same music among friends and family without stress in the intimacy of a home setting, but their generosity in working so hard to present these two public concerts is warmly applauded.
A TALE OF TWO FAMILIES
Where: Esplanade Recital Studio
When: Wednesday, 7.30pm
Info: $20 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to sistic.com.sg)