Concert Review: Martin Ng’s Bel Canto Spectacular – 8 Aug 2014

Martin-Ng-PosterMartin Ng’s Bel Canto Spectacular

Vivaldi 
Del destin non dee lagnarsi (Bajazet’s aria from Bajazet)
Cor ritroso (Oralto’s aria from La Fida Ninfa)

Handel Invida sorte (il Re’s aria from Ariodante)
Di Cupido impiego i vanni (Garibaldo’s aria from Rodelinda)

Mozart Hai già vinta la causa… Vedrò mentr’io sospiro (il Conte’s aria from Le Nozze di Figaro)

Rossini Sorgete sorgete (Maometto’s aria from Maometto II)
A un dottor della mia sorte (Bartolo’s aria from il Barbiere di Siviglia)
Accusata di furto (Fernando’s aria from La Gazza Ladra)
Duet: Credete alle femmine (Selim and Fiorilla’s duet from Il Turco in Italia)

Donizetti Regnava nel silenzio…Quando rapito in estasi (Lucia’s aria from Lucia di Lammermoor)

Bellini Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei (Riccardo’s aria from I Puritani)

Donizetti
Come Paride vezzoso (Belcore’s aria from L’Elisir d’amore)
Duet: Quanto amore! (Adina and Dulcamara’s duet from L’Elisir d’amore)

Martin Ng Hon-Wai: coloratura bass-baritone
Tan Sin Sim: soprano
Beatrice Lin: pianist

Presented by The Mad Scene (the-mad-scene.blogspot.com)

8 August 2014 (Sat), 7.30pm
Esplanade Recital Studio

Review by Derek Lim

This evening’s line-up of bel canto and other arias was a welcome breath of fresh air in a recently somewhat staid concert scene. Perhaps there might have been a little too much of a good thing, but Martin Ng’s beautifully burnished and weighty, yet wonderfully agile bass-baritone voice ensured that the ear never tired and was always enchanted. The programme moved from the baroque in Bajazet’s aria from Bajazet which showed off Ng’s impressive breath control, lovely resonant voice, even from top to bottom. Though the very lowest note of the first aria was not as well supported as the rest of his voice, it was the only moment of weakness in an otherwise polished and impressive range. Handel’s ‘Invida sorte’, movingly sung and beautifully shaded, was taken more slowly, with legato phrasing that brought chills down the spine. Clearly expecting, Beatrice Lin’s attentive accompaniment on the Yamaha baby grand was a perfect foil to Martin’s voice, though one wishes she didn’t shy away from the declamatory endings quite as much.

Other highlights of the evening included the Mozart aria, less sneeringly portrayed than usual, but quite winning nonetheless. Bartolo’s aria, however, did not turn out as well, with the tongue-twisting sections taken too fast to be enunciated clearly; indeed some parts were close to unintelligible, a pity since the rest of the aria was otherwise nicely characterised. Elsewhere, Ng managed the colouratura just fine.

Also featured in this concert was Tan Sin Sim, a soprano who has had experience singing such roles as Pamina, the Queen of the Night and Annina. Her bell-like voice is clear and attractive, but in her contributions, especially her solo turn in the Lucia aria, she resorted to scooping up to the high notes, frequently belting them out, ending ‘Quando rapito in estasi’ rather flat.

In the end, it was very much Ng’s show, and he reminded us with a nuanced encore, ‘Minnie, dalla mia casa son partito’ from Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West – a satisfying end to a rewarding evening. Thank you, Martin, it was spectacular!

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