Pianist Melvyn Tan celebrates Beethoven in latest album

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was the teacher of Carl Czerny (1791-1857), who in turn taught Franz Liszt (1811-1886). This illustrious relationship of masters and pupils that spanned three generations is celebrated in the 60th birthday programme of Singapore-born British pianist Melvyn Tan. He has mentored a number of young pianists, with his work at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

Beethoven, who set the Romantic era in music on fire, is represented by his late music, the brief but highly expressive Six Bagatelles (Op. 126) and Sonata No.30 In E Major (Op. 109). The latter closes with a sublime set of variations and this form is perpetuated in a far more florid manner in Czerny's Variations On A Theme By Rode (La Ricordanza), the decorative trend being in vogue with the early Romantics.

Czerny's Funeral March, written upon Beethoven's death, is a tribute to his teacher's famous funeral marches from the Sonata In A Flat Major (Op. 26) and Eroica Symphony. Liszt's Sonata In B Minor, from the lofty heights of Romanticism, completes this generous 80-minute programme.

While eschewing the blood and guts of an Argerich or a Horowitz, Tan's breezy and totally musical account is short neither of passion nor dramatics, and offers a refreshing alternative to the barnstorming ones.



    Melvyn Tan, Piano

    Onyx Classics 4156

    5/5 stars

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Subscribe