Trio prove their worth in chamber music


School of the Arts/Thursday 

The faculty concerts of the School of the Arts are perhaps the best-kept secrets in the arts scene here. Held at the institution's sprawling campus at the end of Orchard Road, these performances of the highest quality suffer from a severe lack of publicity resulting in poor attendance.

The latest presentation featured three of the country's most active chamber musicians: flautist Roberto Alvarez, cellist Leslie Tan and collaborative pianist Teo Li-Chin.

 Alvarez has proven that one can be a jack of all trades and also the master of them all, and he displayed the full array of his intricate palette and tonal control in Prokofiev's Flute Sonata In D, Op. 94.

Although the flute may be more commonly associated with its glorious high notes, it was in the lower registers of the instrument that Alvarez truly shone. Switching with ease between growling with anger and rapid triple tonguing, the neo-classical sarcasm was brilliantly captured especially in the scherzo.

 Teo was the most sensitive partner and showed her mettle in the bluesy Andante with some delicate touches on the piano.  However, as she was careful not to overpower Alvarez, there was some disparity between the articulation of the two instruments, with the piano unable to match the dryness of the flute.

 Tan's soulful execution of Cesar Franck's Sonata In A Major arranged for cello by Jules Delsart made one forget that the work was originally scored for the violin.  The sheer intensity of the cello's higher registers contrasted well with the piano's more poignant writing, and the relatively more comfortable range of the work's more meditative moments granted Tan more freedom to express himself.

 Teo tackled the notoriously tricky piano part with gusto.  She was no mere accompanist as she made the part her own with waves of surging phrases and harmonies.

 It was in Friedrich Kuhlau's Grand Trio Op. 119 that the three truly proved their worth as chamber musicians.  They infused a sense of youthfulness in the work which fizzed with Mozartian charm.  Teo showed herself to be totally at home. 

Despite having fewer notes to play, she had a more important role in this trio and was more than up to the task.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Trio prove their worth in chamber music'. Print Edition | Subscribe