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Admirably involving

Tau Wey at the 2004 Regent Hall Summer Festival,
reviewed by MALCOLM MILLER


A poetic and propulsive reading of Beethoven's Appassionata sonata formed a suitably invigorating start to the BPSE's Summer Festival in August 2004 at Regent Hall, London, UK, given by the young pianist Tau Wey. His dramatic rendering and exciting architectural vision lived up to every expectation of the first prize-winner of the BPSE's annual Intercollegiate Competition which took place in December 2003, for which the Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Jonathan Rennert MA FRCO FRCCO LRAM ARCM, was here present to award that august society's engraved Beethoven Medal.

The sonata came alive with its crisp and lucid textures, discretely dazzling with a cool detached manner of playing that belied the explosive impulse of its expression, and a sensitivity of touch. Tau Wey, currently an advanced student at Trinity College of Music following his music studies at Cambridge University, has a creative approach to programming, and followed Beethoven with a contrasting group of three English Bs: Byrd, Bantock and Britten.

Byrd's Pavane and Galliard flowed with brightly coloured passagework that suggested the decorative richness of Bach two centuries later; here Byrd's polyphonic imitation was etched out with delicacy in the Pavane and poise to the Galliard's lilting rhythms. A wide leap forward brought us to the exotic piquancy of the Lyric Poem by Granville Bantock. Wey highlighted the silences and airy gestures of its witty syntax of unresolved dissonances in a post-Wagnerian, even modernist accent. If a little more pedal would have allowed the shimmering textures more resonance, its characterful charm was well represented.

Yet another surprise ensued, Britten's Rhapsody, composed as a teenager, which remarkably had received its world première at Aldeburgh last June, by Tau Wey, part of his project of performing all Britten's piano works, and on the basis of this performance one hopes that he will eventually record it. It is always fascinating to hear and witness the evolution of a composer's style from its embryonic pre-echoes, and here the influences of early romantic Schumann, Brahms, the impressionism of Debussy (chains of unresolved sevenths) and Ravel, and the chromatic wit of Strauss, mingled with obvious Englishisms of Percy Grainger -- whose buoyant energy came to mind in the main dance-like central section. A feat of pianism shows the young Britten in command of virtuosity, and Tau Wey realised the wide stretches with graceful aplomb and warm tone, capturing the swaggering gait of this youthful ebullient miniature.

Finally a Chinese essay in East-West impressionism, Quiet Lake under the Autumn Moonlight by Chen Pei-Shu, in which Chinese folk melody combined with flowing arpeggios in a new age kind of colourful sweep. Far from the avant-gardism of some contemporary Chinese music yet clearly connected with the eastern tradition.

Chopin's A flat Waltz formed a breezy encore to this recital affirming Tau Wey's interesting artistic profile and admirably involving pianism.

Copyright © 24 August 2004 Malcolm Miller, London UK




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