A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

music
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

FRIENDS OF MUSIC RECITAL: MARCH 1 (article first published : 2005-03-3)

Melvyn Tan was born in Singapore 49 years ago but has lived in Britain for the past 27 years, and in that time has established himself as an international pianist of the first rank.

The recital for the Friends of Music, at the Durban Jewish Centre on March 1, gave him ample opportunity to display the virtuosity and poetry in his playing. His choice of programme was unusual, maybe adventurous, but it worked brilliantly, I thought.

In the first part he played works by two keyboard composers who are roughly two centuries apart, Domenico Scarlatti and Isaac Albeniz. After the interval he turned to one of Schubertís greatest works, the Sonata in B flat major, D. 960.

Scarlatti and Albeniz might be far apart chronologically but they have quite a lot in common. Albeniz (1860-1909) was of course Spanish; he is in many ways the archetypal Spanish composer. Scarlatti ((1685-1757) was Italian but he spent much of his life in Spain. Both were late-flowering geniuses. Scarlatti wrote most of his 550 harpsichord sonatas, which he called ďexercisesĒ, in the latter part of his life, half of them when he was aged 67 to 72. And after turning out hundreds of innocuous and undistinguished piano pieces Albeniz produced a masterpiece in the last three years of his life, the 12 compositions called Iberia.

Melvyn Tan alternated Scarlatti and Albeniz in his programme, presenting six Scarlatti sonatas and four pieces from Iberia. There has long been a debate about whether Scarlatti sounds better on the harpsichord or the modern piano. Many years ago the brilliant playing of the American harpsichordist (and ultimate Scarlatti authority) Ralph Kirpatrick inclined me towards the harpsichord. Melvyn Tanís playing here in Durban was enough to swing me back towards the piano. He is an unassuming performer with an immaculate technique and a firm intellectual grasp of the music he plays. He avoided the best known of the Scarlatti sonatas. In his six items he showed a just appreciation of the fact that Scarlatti is not just a brilliant, mannered keyboard virtuoso but a composer of real dramatic power with musical ideas that were astonishingly advanced for his time.

This music was totally absorbing, as were the Albeniz pieces, some of them among the most difficult ever written for the piano: Evocacion, El Puerto, Fete-Dieu a Seville and El Albaicin. Here Melvyn Tan displayed his formidable technical prowess, always in the cause of unveiling the poetry in this beautiful music.

After the interval came the Schubert, a long work written near the end of the composerís short life. Melvyn Tanís controlled yet passionate presentation of the music showed why he is so highly regarded in the wide world.

The recitalís prelude performer, funded by the National Lottery Fund, was Thokozani Mamkhize-Ndlovu, soprano, who is involved with choral music and is a producer of educational programmes with the SABC. She gave much pleasure in arias by Mozart, Puccini, Lehar and Gounod. - Michael Green




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart