T’ang Quartet Presents StringFellows – 22 Jun 2014, 5:30pm.

Stringfellows_015 (1024x275)Photo credits: Aloysius Lim

T’ang Quartet Presents StringFellows
Sun 22 Jun 2014, Esplanade Recital Studio 5:30pm

Hugo Wolf: Italian Serenade in G Major
Ng Yu Ying (Violin), Ang Chek Meng (Violin), Thian Ai Wen (Viola), Elizabeth Tan (Cello)

Schubert: Quartettsatz in C minor, D703
Lillian Wang (Violin), Tang Tee Tong (Violin), Lionel Tan (Viola), Leslie Tan (Cello)

Borodin: String Sextet in D minor
Ng Yu Ying (Violin), Lillian Wang (Violin), Lionel Tan (Viola), Thian Ai Wen (Viola), Leslie Tan (Cello), Elizabeth Tan (Cello)

Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat major
I. Allegro moderato con fuoco II. Andante III. Scherzo. Allegro leggierissimo IV. Presto
T’ang Quartet: Ng Yu-Ying (violin), Ang Chek Meng (violin), Lionel Tan (viola), Leslie Tan (cello)
Elizabeth Tan (cello), Lillian Wang, (violin), Thian Ai Wen (viola), Tang Tee Tong (violin)

Review by Derek Lim

Themed like a tea-party with cosy stage furniture to match, this afternoon concert by the T’ang Quartet served up a tasty morsels of less often-heard pieces like Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade, here in its original string quartet version, sunnily realised in a vivacious, energetic rendition which could possibly have taken a moment or two to breathe.

The wet acoustics of the recital studio muddying up the textures aside, the nervy, neurotic Schubert felt somehow more relaxed, less tightly put-together. The first violinist seemed more at home with its declamatory passages than its lyricism, with an edge in her sound that contrasted with Ng Yu-Ying’s much more ingratiating tone in the Wolf. Their approach was unabashedly romantic and extrovert with hairpins aplenty. Perhaps taking a singular tempo throughout would have helped the music feel more as apiece; here it came across a tad episodic.

The  two movements of the Borodin Sextet found the six in a smiling, cheerful performance, with forceful playing that could again have been more relaxed, less heavy, though the performance was never anything less than lovely.

But it was in the Mendelssohn Octet (the ‘main course’ as Leslie Tan described it), that the afternoon truly came into its own, with a bristling, high voltage performance that surged with energy. Ng Yu-Ying was in fine form here, leading the ensemble in a passionate, tight reading that despite some ‘sign-posting’ showed off virtuosity from all-involved, not least Ng himself, who delivered everything with impeccable intonation and temperament. The first movement was particularly well-shaped, and if there was a bit of a dip in energy in the second movement, the ‘fairy music’ scherzo, straight out of his ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, was perfectly executed and gossamer. The last movement’s 8-part fugato, vigorously begun on the cellos, showed off quicksilver figurations from everyone involved and brought home the almost-symphonic scale of the music, with much texture and fire, making the return of the scherzo seamless. It was a very satisfying end to an interestingly programmed concert.

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