Yet the occasion had been transformed at its midpoint by Tan’s solo performance of Liszt’s Three Concert Etudes, S144. One wasn’t at all prepared for this modest manifestation of complete, devastating musicality. Virtuosity became poetry; phrasing became human breathing (not only in the third study, Un sospiro!); and the whole breadth of the keyboard (a modern Steinway, but lent a homely immediacy as of a period instrument) was constantly commanded as though a single handspan. It was pianism as stirring and illuminating as any I’ve heard.
Tan’s easy asides to the audience matched by his ingratiating engagement with the music, the beautiful sound that he produces, and the moments (…) of visionary grandeur – he is quite the shaman-showman. This exceptional recital cooled down with a dip into Debussy’s ‘Poissons d’or.’
‘With pianist and string players of one mind, the performance was an intensely musical one. The balance of sound was close to ideal, with the work’s understated instrumental virtuosity firmly placed to one side. (…) The applause was long and loud, so Tan and the quartet encored the latter half of the Scherzo.’
Despite the diverse compositional styles, each piece easily flows from one to the next, abetted by Melvyn Tan’s mellifluous and caring interpretations. A most enjoyable, enchanting 22 minutes of music, well worth downloading.