Musings of an Artiste
Esplanade Recital Studio
12 November 2015, 1930hrs
With such a title as ‘Musings of an Artiste’ and a poster with a dark background showing the artiste deep in thought (musing, presumably), one almost expects the repertoire to be big, heavy works of the 19th-century, where artist(e)s were admired, put on a pedestal, and revered as idols. The stage, too, was set to reflect a 19th-century style salon, with flowers underneath the piano and in large vases behind.
Instead, what a surprise it was when the repertoire turned out to be three sonatas from the Classical period, bordering on the cusp of Romanticism and in the key of E-flat major.
Haydn’s Sonata Hob. XVI:49 which opened the evening was a delightfully witty and light, peppered with contrasting moments of drama. The drama was brought out further in the Les Adieux sonata, written by Beethoven in expression of farewell to a dear friend the archduke Rudolph. Before playing, Lim gave an account of how he was given this work to learn when he first went to UK, as his teachers thought he could identify with the separation from his family and home. Revisiting this sonata, he gave a highly poetic and wonderfully detailed account of it, never letting the drama get the better of the structure and without over-the-top expression.
The 4-movement Sonata D.568 by Schubert which followed was a tribute to Ms Lim Tshui Ling, his former teacher. In it, Lim immersed the audience into the fluid, ever-changing harmonies of Schubert’s sound world, deftly navigating the delicate key changes. The opening Allegro had a dancing lilt to it, and the hushed pianissimos in the andante molto offered a warmth that was almost ethereal.
Although the absence of programme notes was evident at the start of the concert, Lim skilfully wove programme notes into his preambles before and in between pieces, making the evening more intimate and showing a side of the artiste that one doesn’t often see with other performers.
The dramatic and passionate side of Lim finally broke through in his encore of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op 23 no. 5; and since the key of E-flat major was the thread linking up the entire programme, ‘it would be a little perverse not to end the evening in E-flat major’, Lim quipped, and polished off Rachmaninoff’s Prelude op 23 no. 6 in understated virtuosity.
This recital was presented by Kris Foundation.