Beethoven glorious Beethoven Hin Yat Tsang at St Mary`s
We are so used to hearing Beethoven’s last three sonatas op 109,110 and 111 that it came as a surprise to see the three Sonatas op 101,109 and 110 grouped together in today’s programme …….. …..that is until one heard Hin Yat Tsang’s revelatory performance today for Dr Hugh Mather‘s extraordinary season of great young pianists in the beautifully welcoming wooden church in the middle of Ealing golf course!
It was many years ago that I studied with “Freddie” Jackson at the Royal Academy.
Sidney Harrison ,my professor from my youth,had gone away for a term to adjudicate in Canada and he sent me to that remarkable musician who had recently awarded me the Liszt Scholarship.
I would practise every evening in the Royal Academy and one day a young chinese girl shyly knocked on my door.
She too was studying with Professor Jackson and she had heard a lot about me and could she play through her programme that she was about to play at the Vercelli International Competition in Italy.
She was in her final year and I was in my first.
I remember it well.How could I forget?
She won the silver medal.
She played Beethoven op 110,Schumann Kinderszenen and a Bach Prelude and Fugue.
It was wonderful musicianly playing,beautiful sound and of such intelligence.
I was overwhelmed and full of compliments.
Her name was Eleanor Wong who has gone on to make a big name for herself in her home in Hong Kong. Not only as a pianist but as a trainer of young very gifted children. She is an important part of the very prestigious Hong Kong International Piano Competition …the only competition where the jury are asked to give concerto performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Recently she was also invited onto the jury of the Leeds International Piano Competition.
So it came as no surprise to learn that Hin-Yat Tsang was just such a gifted child in Hong Kong when he started his studies with Eleanor at the age of four.
Today in his twenties having graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts with a B mus he went on to study at the Royal College of Music with Dmitri Alexeev.
Supported by the Harold Craxton Trust,Worshipful Company of Musicians and Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship winning many important prizes and graduating last year.
He is now completing his studies in Berlin with Klaus Hellwig.
A real thinking musician his reasoning became perfectly clear with his unusual grouping together of these three sonatas from Beethoven’s final output of five from op 106 to 111 .
It all fell so clearly into place as these three sonatas each starting in a pastoral mood ever more serene as they progress from op101 to 110.
Of course it was obvious as op 106 and op 111 both start in an imperious mood throwing all caution to the wind as Beethoven asks the player to risk all with the opening fanfares in the “Hammerklavier” as in the last Sonata op 111.
It became clear as Hin-Yat Tsang caressed so lovingly the opening phrase of op 101.”mit der innigsten Empfindung ” with innermost sensibility exactly as Beethoven had indicated .
It was as though the bar lines did not exist as this great song unravelled with all Beethoven’s indications , digested and interpreted so naturally.
The throbbing syncopated rhythms where Beethoven marks espressivo and semplice so gently telling.
The climax dissolving into almost a murmur. An extraordinary control on this not easy piano was so evident from the very first notes.
I was reminded of the masterclass with Andras Schiff on the Schumann Humoresque at the RCM a year or two ago.
One of the most inspired I have ever witnessed where the student and master were on such a level that it became a truly unforgettable experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdqiQ9VQxrE
His performances of the Rachmaninov 2nd Sonata and the Scrabin Studies at his graduation concert showed a trascendental technique .
A technique that gives him complete command of the sound and allied to a musical intelligence of extraordinary sensibility it lead to an unforgettable hour of music today.
The extraordinary concentration from this charming young man I have only seen once before recently and that was from Chloe Mun the winner of the Busoni Competition who made her debut for the Keyboard CharitableTrust at Steinway Hall last summer and thanks to the generosity of Dr Hugh Mather in Perivale too.
Like her his head bowed, watching like a hawk every move .
Such beautifully natural movement of the hands as they hovered over the keys almost like a sculptor bringing a work of art to life.
Taught rhythmic control in the march never allowing the tension to lag leading to an adagio of such longing as Beethoven asks each hand to beseech the other so clearly and tenderly.
The opening theme erupting into a final movement that bubbled over with an almost pastoral charm and joy .Played with just the right aristocratic determination on the questioning chordal interruptions .
The Sonata op 109 floated in as though it had already begun afar .
The Prestissimo played with all the Beethovenian energy and rhythmic assurance of the greatest players .
The theme and variations beautifully shaped.
The voicing in the second variation so unusually clear showed a real musical mind at work.The transcendental precision of the Allegro vivace 3rd variation and again the clarity of the part playing in the 4th .
The majestic statement of the Allegro,ma non troppo of the 5th leading to the celestial return of the main theme .
The extreme attention to the the left hand rhythm allowed for the natural disintegration with the trills superbly controlled and leading to the final magical reapparition of the theme.
No pause between this sonata and the heavenly opening of op 110 was possible.
The capacity audience spellbound hardly daring to breathe as he played with the true “amabilita’” that Beethoven asks for.
The whole Sonata unfolded and time seemed to stand still as it had when his teacher Eleanor Wong all those years ago played it to that first year student who listened as overwhelmed as we all were today.
A Prelude from the 48 in F minor Bk 1 was the only possible encore for an insistent public .
I was hopefully expecting op 111 that Dr Mather had told me he had been playing in his warm up before today’s concert.
Next time we will be waiting with great anticipation for the reappearance of this remarkable young musician.