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Classical music review: Beethoven's triple & Mahler's fifth

Published on Apr 18, 2014 11:12 AM

Two popular works, a million-dollar trio and low-priced tickets were what completely sold this concert by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra on the eve of a public holiday, on April 17. The sense of occasion at the Esplanade Concert Hall was heightened when the music began some 40 minutes late, due to stringent security checks before the appearance of no less than the Prime Minister himself.

Beethoven wrote no cello concerto, and so his Triple Concerto in C major (Op.56), for violin, cello and piano (the quintessential piano trio), is the closest thing to one. It was no accident that cellist Qin Li-Wei was positioned right smack in the centre, on the forestage, with both the piano and conductor displaced right of centre.

The first solo entry naturally fell to Qin, whose statement was clear in voice and intent. He would be the leader, while violinist Qian Zhou offered countermelodies and an intricate veil of harmony. Their chemistry, as previously demonstrated in Brahms' Double Concerto, was immediate and palpable, with the duo casting frequent glances at each other as the music rolled on.

The orchestra led by Jason Lai and Albert Tiu's piano provided more than textural and rhythmic support in the engaging 35-minute-long work. True to form in this taut and highly-strung performance, there were several heart-stopping moments involving the pianist.

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