Home > Lifestyle > Entertainment > Music
Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 6:00:00 AM
Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 4:41:22 PM
by christy yoong
Tinkling the ivories: Tengku Ahmad Irfan entertained the audience with 'Piano Concerto No.2 In G Minor Op.16'.
Prodigy Tengku Ahmad Irfan was on hand to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Dewan Filharmonik Petronas and kick-start its new season.
YOUTH is a wonderful thing. Sergei Prokofiev was all of 23 when he premiered his Piano Concerto No.2 In G Minor Op.16 in 1913. Its reception in Pavlovsk, just outside St Petersburg, Russia, on Aug 23, was mixed, to say the least – while some reacted positively, others in the audience expressed their displeasure with hissing and booing.
The score for that concerto was, however, lost in a fire during the Russian Revolution. In 1923, Prokofiev reconstructed the concerto from memory, revising it considerably along the way into the form we are familiar with today.
And, nearly 100 years to the day after the composer first performed the work, a young Malaysian took to the stage of Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) recently to put his own mark on what is acknowledged as among the most technically-formidable of piano concertos.
Tengku Ahmad Irfan is a familiar face to regular DFP patrons, having made his debut there in 2009. Then, just 11, he displayed a prodigiousness that belied his tender age both as pianist and composer (he improvised his own cadenzas for each of the three movements of the Beethoven piano concerto he performed).
Each return he has made since has further demonstrated his burgeoning talent and now, all of 15, he calmly took on a work that has left many older and more experienced pianists nervous. Irfan, however, was fearless, tackling the music’s considerable demands with a jaunty nonchalance that bordered on the impetuous.
It was not purely a matter of banging on the keyboard, though, as he displayed the witted lyricism that seemed to have eluded many performances of the concerto. Ably accompanied by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), led by its music director Claus Peter Flor – who celebrates his sixth season with the orchestra – this was a dynamic and memorable performance.
If there was a complaint, though, it would be that there were occasions when the music seemed a little cold, where an injection of a personal interpretation would not go amiss. That, undoubtedly, would come with greater maturity. Youth, after all, is a wonderful thing – there’ll be time enough to find a more individual voice, one that is unique and will truly leave a mark as Prokofiev did a hundred years ago.
Irfan’s performance was among the highlights from the gala concert (held on Aug 17 and 18) to mark the beginning of DFP and the MPO’s Season 2013/14. It also celebrated the music hall and orchestra’s 15th anniversary, and the waltz music from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, performed at the end of the show, neatly encapsulated the essence, as it is, of the musical experience within this bejewelled venue: gorgeous music, rendered with verve and panache to create indelible memories.
Both the Prokofiev and Strauss also bookended further signs of the considerable impact DFP and the MPO have had on the local music scene. Two compositions by local composers were programmed on either side of the interval: RTM music director Datuk Mohkzani Ismail’s We Are One and Irfan’s Sahibul Hikayat Fantasy Overture.
The former, broadly melodious and sweet, was written in 2011 and first performed by the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in this very venue, while the latter, spiky dissonance and always restless, is a more recent composition that was commissioned by DFP.
The weekend’s performance was also its world premiere, and is as good as any indication of what this new season, accreting on the experiences of previous years, would take music in Malaysia: on an upward trajectory.
Tags / Keywords:
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)