New albums by Power Station, Winnie Hsin and Howard Shelley

In their earlier days, Taiwanese duo Power Station were known for rock ballads filled with angst and soaring vocals in hits such as Heartless Love Letters, which is found on this new two-disc album. Two decades on, the pair have matured and their most memorable new songs are the more measured mid-tempo tracks.

The opener Mi Tang (Potion) possesses a tenderness in lines such as "She uses warmth to heat up a bowl of potion for me, how fragrant".

Despite its title, Zha Yao (Dynamite) starts gently and even the chorus is unhurried: "You are the dynamite deep in my heart/Why are these memories so overbearing/Don't know when they will explode/ And blow everything apart."

That said, Power Station have not lost their explosiveness and edge. They still have plenty of energy, judging from songs such as the Minnan-Mandarin track Next Station. They remain a relevant music force and that is no mean feat after 20 years.

  • ASIAN POP

  • Power Station

    HIM International Music

    3.5/5 stars

    FLOW

    Winnie Hsin

    Rock Records

    3.5/5 stars

Taiwanese singer Winnie Hsin has been around even longer and yet the 54-year-old's crystalline soprano pipes have not diminished since her debut album, Lonely Winter, was released in 1986.

The album's Mandarin title, Ming Bai (Understand), seems to hark back to her best-known work Ling Wu (Epiphany, 1994), but she has no intention of resting on her laurels.

If her awakening in Epiphany was a bitter one ("Ah painful realisation that you were my everything"), the parting shot in the title track here is a more empowering manifesto: "I can afford to love/I can let it go."

First single My Dear You, which has been scaling radio charts, mixes lush strings with her deftly modulating voice: "My dear you, missing you/I wish you were here with me/You have to walk part of the way to realise that being safe and sound is the greatest happiness."

It feels as though one is hearing from a good friend after a long absence.

Boon Chan


Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844) was the second son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was four months old when his father died. His two piano concertos proves he is a chip off the old block, continuing in his father's classical style of piano and orchestral writing.

  • OBSCURE CLASSICS

  • F.X. MOZART PIANO CONCERTOS NO. 1 & 2

    Muzio Clementi Piano Concerto

    Howard Shelley, Piano

    Sinfonieorchester St Gallen

    Hyperion 68126

    4/5 stars

Piano Concerto No. 1 In C Major (1809) recaps Amadeus' martial air of the C major concertos (Nos. 21 and 25) and syncopated tension in the opening tutti of the D minor concerto (No. 20). By the time Piano Concerto No. 2 In E Flat Major (1818) came about, Beethoven's more vigorous concertos had already turned the tide of music, ushering in the age of Romanticism.

Italian Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) was a rival of the father, upon whom he poured no little scorn and sarcasm. Even his only Piano Concerto In C Major (1896) sounds modern by comparison and may be passed off as proto-Beethoven. He, rather than Franz Xaver, was perhaps the true link between Mozart and Beethoven.

Trust the enterprising British pianist-conductor Howard Shelley to breathe vitality into these works, which are worth listening if not life-changing.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe