Tuesday, August 30, 2011

À Tout le Monde in Review

Hawk Liu reviews young flautist Jasper Goh's recital À Tout le Monde. The recital is published late due to miscommunications. Our apologies to Jasper.

27 June 2011, 8pm
1 Commonwealth Avenue, One Commonwealth Building #03-01

Jasper Goh - flute solos
Teo Shaoming - flute (the duets)
Loh Wan Shan - piano

Fantasia No. 2 for Solo Flute – Georg Philipp Telemann
Flute Sonata in D, Op.94 – Sergei Prokofiev
Concertino for Flute and Piano, Op.107 – Cecile Chaminade
Duet No. 3, op.10 for Two Flutes – Friedrich Kuhlau
Rigoletto Fantasy for Two Flutes and Piano, Op.38 – Franz Doppler

A Review - written by Hawk Liu

I first heard Jasper playing a short Debussy flute solo just a few months ago and now i am hearing a whole concert. I was treated to a good range of repertoire in terms of classical periods. I seldom listen to recorded flute music because the flute doesn't record well. Even in a concert hall, its beautiful sound is lost among the other instruments and in the large spaces concert halls usually are. So, it was certainly great to be able to sit in this small venue of nearly-30 capacity to be able to hear all the nuances and glory of the instrument. Jasper certainly provided much of the beautiful sound from his playing. The tone was sweet, his technique was sure, and interpretation generally idiomatic.

In terms of skills, Jasper, barely 20, really had to show it all in the very demanding Prokofiev. The virtuosic writing in the last movement was exciting and Jasper really brought it home with the much of the runs and I did notice how very secure the low notes were in those runs. He certainly showed he could bring on the power in the sound of the instrument in especially that movement - amazing! The second movement had some short scalic runs that didn't work though. It did sound like he blew straight into the flute for those. But the Prokofiev was really demanding and the slower passages needed a more matured reading.

I love the Chaminade piece. Jasper brought out the song element really well. Both piano and flute worked exquisitely together to bring out all the beautiful things in the piece. The coloratura was delicious and very clean, and the cadenzas just right. Of all the pieces, I feel this was musically and technically the most successful!

Alright, the bad news before I get to the duets. The piece I felt didn't work was the Telemann. There is always the danger of playing baroque with 'late romantic' leanings in especially rubatos and dramatic phrasing. Yes, there were some questionable rubatos. The pace needed to be more consistent and the tone more intense especially in the slow movements. There appeared to have been some less graceful breathing, probably due to nerves.

Now in constrast, the Khulau duet was such a delight. The pair gave a very tight performance - and I mean very tight! They were matching each other well, taking turns in the music to accompany and then play the main themes as the composer weaved the material in many clever ways. Jasper, especially showed his skills and understanding of the contrast in playing accompaniment and and playing solo lines within the same piece. Here, I am witnessing good music making.

I should make mention of the accompanist before I get to the 'Rigoletto'. Loh Wan Shan was competent pianist in term of music making - the intentions were clear and provided a great musical canvas for Jasper to weave his music on. There were some really exquisite piano work in the 3rd movement of Prokofiev. However, I did wish care was taken not to overpower the flute in the dramatic sections of the finale. There was also the danger of overpowering in the 'Rigoletto', though not as much as the Prokofiev.

Now the 'Rigoletto' - what a joy. Aside from Liszt's Rigoletto paraphrase, I was now delighted to add to my treasure this double flute paraphrase of a few of the main themes from the opera. The piece started with the 'La rà, la rà, la la,' theme of Rigoletto in despair. This was where I wish there were lots of rubato! It was too straightforward and didn't imitate Rigoletto's anguish enough for me. However, the crowning glory were the several variations of 'caro nome'. There were surprising twists and turns in the writing and also a waltz variation. The flutes gave full justice to the score as a finale to the concert.

Solo flute and piano duly gave an encore in the form of Tambourin by Francois Joseph Gossec. A great finish to a night of beautiful flute sounds!
I do wish Jasper the best in his study of the instrument. With more years of music making, the maturity in interpretation should come and I look forward to hearing him again and again.

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