Hot Tracks

Never mind the English album title, which is as bald-faced a statement as it gets. The Chinese title Jin Ri Ying Ye Zhong, Open For Business Today, is less in-your-face, referring to Taiwanese singer Yoga Lin's return to the music scene after completing his military service last year.

There is a sense of him starting things on a clean slate on opening track Let It Die. "Let the world be destroyed/ Let everything turn to ash, all absurdities end/Let me be destroyed," he sings.

In other words, this is not quite business as usual for Lin.

There is the surprise of his first Cantonese track, the ballad Worse Comes To Worst, and he does a good job with Wyman Wong's incisive lyrics: "When everything is bad and you can still be happy, that's a sublime state."



    Yoga Lin

    HIM International Music

    3.5/5 stars

He also hints at greater maturity in Spoiled Innocence when he laments: "Do you know the cruellest thing you've done/Is to cruelly turn me into a man overnight?"

Some things do not change, though, and there is nothing wrong with that - Lin's evocative pipes are in fine form and his penchant for musical adventure continues to be given free rein.

And so we get the catchy uptempo rock of Unshakeable Rascals, the loungy jazz of Courage To Remember You and the elegiac ballad Tiny Part Of You, which he composed.

Good to have Lin back in business. And, who knows, the album may just sell like hot cakes.

Boon Chan

Singapore jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro celebrates 40 years of musicmaking with an album dedicated to the laidback rhythms of bossa nova. It is easy to see why this album cracked the top 10 on the Singapore iTunes Jazz Charts in just three days and climbed to the top spot on June 11, just nine days after its release.

  • JAZZ


    Jeremy Monteiro and Jazz Brasileiro, featuring Juliana da Silva and Melissa Tham


    3.5/5 stars

The crowdpleasing programme of tunes draws from bossa nova great Antonio Carlos Jobim's discography, ranging from the chilled-out ballads Meditation and Quiet Nights & Quiet Stars to the inevitable The Girl From Ipanema.

Monteiro steers the proceedings with a light touch and easy confidence. One of his strongest suits as band leader is his willingness to let his band members shine - he happily cedes the limelight in certain numbers without losing his presence. He embroiders Desafinado with his lyrical trills as saxophonist Tony Lakatos takes the lead, for example. And while he takes the intro with an introspective turn in Black Orpheus, he gives bassist Rudi Engel ample space for a solo turn.

Two female vocalists - Brazilian Juliana da Silva and Singapore's Melissa Tham - contribute their cool crooning, the latter shining in particular with her sunny singing that recalls shades of Karrin Allyson's perky timbre.

Monteiro also exercises his composing muscle with two appealingly upbeat tunes, Samba Apaxionado and Soliloquio. The latter appears in two versions, one with Portuguese lyrics by Paulinho Garcia and another with English lyrics by Tham.

All in all, a listenable album from Singapore's King of Swing, who has found his cool bossa groove.

Ong Sor Fern

This year marks the birth centenary of the great violinist and musical statesman Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999). British violinist Daniel Hope was a student of his and whose mother served as Lord Menuhin's manager for many years.



    Daniel Hope, Violin et al

    Deutsche Grammophon 479 5305

    4.5/5 stars

This touching tribute to his "music grandfather" includes music closely associated with Menuhin as well as pieces which teacher and student worked on together. It was Menuhin who gave the first performance of Mendelssohn's very early Violin Concerto In D Minor, a work of Mozartian charm and simplicity which Hope plays with much sympathy and wide-eyed directness.

In Vivaldi's Concerto For 2 Violins In A Minor and a selection of Bartok Duos, Hope is partnered by Simos Papanas and Daniel Lozakovitj, where he takes on the Menuhin mantle as mentor. Although Menuhin was unlikely to have known or heard the short pieces by Steve Reich, Hans Werner Henze, John Tavener, Jo Knumann or Bechara El-Khoury, the cosmopolitanism of the selection reflected his ethos and worldview.

There is much poignancy in the last piece, Ravel's Kaddisch, a Jewish song of mourning which Hope performed in the last concert Menuhin conducted, making for a most moving tribute.

Chang Tou Liang

If one is familiar with the piano music of Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Medtner, the works of their contemporary Konstantin Eiges (1875-1950) would prove equally appealing.



    Jonathan Powell, Piano

    Toccata Classics 0215

    4.5/5 stars

Born of Jewish ancestry in Ukraine, he studied both medicine and music, but devoted his life to music education. This first recording of Eiges' piano music by British pianist Jonathan Powell reveals a style common to Russian composers of the late Romantic era, stretching from the more traditional Glazunov and Liadov to the rising iconoclast Prokofiev.

Eiges acquits himself as a perfect miniaturist in the Skazki (Fairy Tales), Preludes and Poems, forms frequented by his more famous colleagues. Scriabin's febrile and volatile sensibilities, Rachmaninov's lyricism and passion and Medtner's economy and development of simple motifs are all present.

In the two more extended singlemovement Sonatas-Poems, a heady union of Scriabin and Medtner is the result. More traditional are the Theme And Variations and Cuckoo, a short piece based on the familiar birdcall.

Powell is a most persuasive advocate, whose understated virtuosity and razor-keen reflexes are wholly in the service of this underrated and unjustifiably neglected music.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2016, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe