The Academy's Best Pianists fund-raising concerts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2008, 12:00am

The Academy's Best Pianists fund-raising concerts

City Hall Concert Hall

Reviewed: June 21 and 22

Julie Kuok's latest composition shows just how many pianists you can get inside, outside and underneath a single Steinway grand: 24. Her Tableau for 48 hands (and four pianos) topped off two excellent programmes presented by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) showcasing the best of their past and present students.

Kuok's work was amusingly choreographed and enthusiastically executed; repeating it as an encore showed it was musically sound and not just held together by novelty.

This column can't do justice to the 16 substantial performances given by 28 players in various combinations, but the unifying factors of musical integrity and happy collaboration were evident throughout.

Karl Lo and Mo Cheung-yu's heady start to Ravel's La Valse gathered so much effervescence as it went along as to be intoxicating by the end. Rachel Cheung Wai-ching and Wong Wai-yin injected bags of style and colour into Milhaud's Scaramouche, binding it with subtleties way beyond their teenage years. Colleen Lee Ka-ling's exemplary handling of Liszt's Gounod Faust Concert Paraphrase seamlessly fused its poetry and technical fireworks, while Felix Tao Chang's evocative movements from Albeniz' Iberia balanced pace, tone and mood splendidly.

Applause reached its warmest level when Gabriel Kwok Ka-tak, head of keyboard studies at the APA, joined in the final bow.