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Concert review: Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra takes huge strides forward

Published on Apr 14, 2014 12:10 PM

Curious fact: The Singaporean who has had the most concertos performed this millennium is Bernard Tan, a National University of Singapore physics professor who composes in his free time. Following the first performances of his Piano Concerto (2002), Violin Concerto (2006) and Guitar Concerto (2013) by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, his Cello Concerto received its world premiere on Sunday at the School of the Arts.

It was performed by dedicatee Noella Yan with the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adrian Tan.

Yan is a Singaporean cellist residing in Australia, and daughter of the orchestra's founding conductor Yan Yin Wing. This concerto marked her return to Singapore and to performing after a lay-off to look after two young sons. Any concessions to technical ability were dispensed with in this demanding work that called for utmost concentration and no little agility.

In a way, Bernard Tan resembles the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian in that he uses a few simple themes of local and ethnological flavour and works these exhaustively in a show of soloistic exuberance. The opening movement balanced a repetitive scherzo-like first motif with a lyrical second subject of Asian origin, while the central slow movement was a seamless Chinese melody of Tan's own device. Here, Yan's cantabile playing, full-voiced yet never cloying, invitingly came to the fore.

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