Celebration of global intimacy

PHOTOS: PEATIX

With the intimate space of the Arts House Living Room made even more intimate by a plethora of faux candles, all that was needed to complete the spell was an intimate musical experience presented by friendly musicians. And that was exactly what was delivered for this latest concert in the imaginative By Candlelight series.

When it comes to musical ensembles, it does not get more intimate than a guitar/flute duo and there was such obvious chemistry between Kevin Loh and Roberto Alvarez that their music-making transcended technical and artistic excellence and passed into the realms of genuine affection.

Their intimacy and friendliness were mirrored in the programme, which celebrated global intimacy and friendliness by comprising music from, or about, a dozen different countries on four continents.

The Singaporean element came from Loh, whose own Fantasie for flute and guitar was composed to celebrate his return home for his mandatory national service after years at the Menuhin School in the United Kingdom.

Alvarez honoured his country with a dazzling arrangement of Falla's famous Spanish Dance. The concert ended with a set of Romanian dances by Bartok brilliantly played by the duo.

A moment of real intimacy was Loh's solo performance of an enchanting Taiwanese folk song. Not to be outdone, Alvarez's own solo was the evocative Syrinx by the French composer Debussy. His consummate musicianship rekindled in this much over-exposed music a sense of other-worldliness and intrigue.

  • REVIEW / CONCERT

    BY CANDLELIGHT: FANTASY AND FOLKLORE

    Kevin Loh (guitar), Roberto Alvarez (flute)

    Arts House Living Room

    Last Friday

Three pieces by the Australian composer Stephen Lalor, each depicting three places in three different countries, added plenty of colour, while there was genuine excitement in American composer Anthony Lanman's virtuoso Sonata 46 - a work which demonstrated the extraordinary technical abilities of both these players.

For my money, it was the set of six Welsh folk songs arranged by Stephen Goss which provided the most captivating moments in a programme high on enchantment as these largely familiar melodies - not least the classic Welsh lullaby, Suo-Gan - were cast in a new and delicate light.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Celebration of global intimacy'. Print Edition | Subscribe