Pianist Hoang Pham gave a well attended solo recital at the Melbourne Recital Centre on October 23, featuring the music of Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Classic Melbourne had a preview of this program, thanks to a review by our colleague Shamistha de Soysa, editor of www.soundslikesydney.com.au.
Shamistha was present at Hoang’s recital at City Recital Hall, Sydney, on October 16, 2016, and published her review soon after. It began: “Making his debut solo recital in Sydney, Melbourne pianist Hoang Pham, winner of the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year in 2013, mesmerised his audience with music by the great Romantics. Hoang Pham plays with the exuberance of youth but with a sensitivity of interpretation that belies his years…”
We will publish this review in full, adding some observations of our own, after attending the Melbourne concert ….
The first and most noticeable observation is that Hoang looks the part of the concert pianist, right to his dexterous hands. Secondly, the concert was demanding of the pianist, requiring a lot more strength than previous performances we have heard from Hoang. A very full program was designed to show his strengths in more senses than one, but also to have maximum enjoyment for the audience. Who after all would not enjoy a program of Brahms, Rachmaninov, and Chopin requiring virtuosity in its execution?
The opening work, Rhapsody in B Minor Op79 No1 by Brahms, was a flamboyant piece, yet with a lyrical interlude before the reprise of the fast flowing scales and other elements. It naturally segued into the well known Intermezzo in A Opus 118 No2 by the same composer. Its gentler start indicated the importance of melody which Hoang picked out in the right hand. So charmed was the audience by its lovely ending that there was a respectful pause before the applause.
And so to Rachmaninov, and his Sonata No2 in B flat minor Op36. It had many of the characteristics of the better known concertos by this composer, and afforded Hoang many opportunities to show his skills, not least the speed and drama of the third movement right up to the showy ending. Hoang appeared to be in his element … until, after interval, he gave us Chopin. This was the Fantasie Impromptu in C sharp minor Opus (posthumous) 66. Hoang has previously shown his empathy with Chopin. The well known melody of the Fantasie Impromptu was brought out and and thrilling technical demands met. The faster reprise appeared effortless and the left-hand articulation of the theme was particularly beautiful. More importantly, it was a feature of this work and indeed the whole concert that musicality was not sacrificed to the technical demands.
No where was this more obvious than in the Rachmaninov Préludes which followed. The first of them, in C sharp minor, was an almost perfect example of marrying technique and feeling for the music, and this carried through the performance of the next three. Finally it was the turn of Brahms and five Hungarian dances. This too was new territory for Hoang Pham, and proved an excellent choice, although not every example was note perfect thanks to the exceptional speed of execution.
What was beyond criticism was the brilliance of the performance married with a true sensibility. This would appear to be a fair summary of the entire concert. It is exciting to see a former Young Performer of the Year mature in such a promising manner.