It is hard to know where to begin in describing the concert by Hin-Yat Tsang in Perivale today.
I think the one word uttered by our master of ceremonies the philanthropic Dr Mather just about sums it all up:”sensational.”
I just hope that his teacher and my colleague at the RAM almost 50 years ago was listening with pride in Hong Kong.
Eleanor Wong was studying with “Freddy “ Jackson and inherited from him his masterly musicianship, absolute respect for the score and above all the rhythmic impetus that lies within the notes on the printed page.
All these qualities were apparent in a Liszt Sonata that rarely has been heard in such a powerfully projected performance where intelligence and respect for the composer were of paramount importance.
Something that is all too rare in this work that is considered the pinnacle of the Romantic repertoire and so often an excuse for self indulgence and rhetoric.
The Schubert “big” A minor sonata D 845 was played as only a true musician following in the footsteps of Kempff or Brendel could have matched .
An encore of the Second Sonata by Scriabin played with such fantasy and amazing technical prowess that the miracles of sumptuous sound that filled this unique venue belied the mastery that we were witnessing.
Hin-Yat Tsang above all has the abilty/sensibility that allows the music to talk so coherently as though on every note there was a different word in a musical conversation that ranges from the deepest of confessions to the most demonic excesses.
It was the absolute control in the Schubert Sonata that gave this complex work such an architectural shape and sense of direction that for once Schubert’s heavenly length was justified!The rhythmic control from the very outset of the first movement allied to contrasts of character and sound made for a fascinating journey indeed.
The Andante had all the charm of the master of song.The florid variations played with a sense of ease and shape leading to the etherial magic sounds of the distant horn.
The scherzo almost orchestral in sound with very strict rhythmic control.A charming lilt and complete change of colour brought a great contrast to the trio of an almost pastoral nostalgia.
The last movement slipped in almost unnoticed before the trumpet call to arms and wending its way in an ever more transcendental web.
A long pause before embarking on the lonely journey of Liszt’s great Sonata.
Great character to the opening statement of the three main motifs.
From the absolute stillness of the single isolated bass notes and wonderfully shaped mysterious melodic line.
The understatement of the opening octaves and the demonic appearance of the left hand menacing motif.
This made the transition to the first main appearance of the octaves even more powerful and of great grandiloquence.
An almost orchestral diminuendo led to the transformation from Florestan to Eusebius but always with the nagging demonic rhythmic throbbing deep in the bass.
The sublime melodic transformation where the most liquid of sounds revealed his true mastery of the pedal.
Magical sounds from every part of the piano led to overwhelming feats of virtuosity all the more startling for the absolute control and spare use of the pedal.Great dramatic statements were interrupted with recitative type comments of great poetic but virile sounds.Three magical chords heralded the melodic middle section played with almost string quartet type voicing The passionate throbbing at the centre of this middle section where vast sounds were unleashed were very similar to the wonders that I remember from the studio in Siena of Guido Agosti.
A mastery of balance that meant there was never any hardness to the sounds but a sumptuous fullness that was overpowering.
The fugato slipped in and led to the triumphant appearance of the recapitulation and the great climax of double octaves played with great technical command .
It led to an almost aching silence that made the entrance to the magical coda even more memorable.
The silence that greeted the final deep bass note spoke wonders for the total concentration and atmosphere that had been created.
A quite remarkable performance in which this much maligned work was once again placed at the very pinnacle of the innovative genius that was Liszt.
Time had indeed stood still with these remarkable performances and a request for more was gladly accepted with the promise of the first movement of the Fantasy Sonata by Scriabin.
Some wonderfully liquid sounds, a completely different sound world from the Schubert or the Liszt.An atmospheric opening leading to the most sumptuous climax before dissolving to a marvel of subtle liquid sounds.
Such was the total absorption of the artist and public alike it was obvious that the second movement should slip in on the crest of this magnificent wave.
Some startling feats of transcendental virtuosity in the second movement with swirls of subtle sounds on which the melodic line rides with such passionate involvement.A remarkable performance from a true poet of the piano.
Totally absorbed too was Andrew Yiangou a colleague from when they were both studying at the Royal College in London .A pianist who has played many times in Perivale and was overcome as we all were today by the poetic mastery of this young musician.