Monthly Archives: January 2012

Concert Review: Neeme Järvi & Vadim Repin

18 & 19 Jan ’12


Eduard Tubin – Estonian Dance Suite

Reminiscent of Wiren and having hints of the Romanian Dances (by Bartok if I’m not mistaken) the Estonian Dance Suite was simple, not extremely elegant but thoroughly enjoyable. Drone instruments, dissonances and generally chords that I am unable to identify but were of rustic harmonic character.

There were slight ensemble problems but overall a very interesting performance of a work by written by a compatriot of the conductor’s that I have never heard before and would like to hear again.


Sergei Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63

Repin did his classic rousing show, bringing a very solid, not extremely beautiful (in the way Hahn did Prokofiev 1 several years ago) tone which was nonetheless highly apt for the style of Prokofiev 2. That was not to say the lyrical parts were aggressive, just that the “zhk” sound was present throughout – even in the 2nd movement bow was evenly bitten into the string. One of the more ethereal moments was when his line was alternately above and below (“drowned out”) by the tutti in the 3rd movement, but his “zhk” articulation was still barely audible.

Again, some ensemble problems (the last 2 notes stood out especially), and a slightly slow start for Repin (left hand, which I noticed because I’m facing the same problem), but it didn’t stop him from drawing his sound his way out of his Guarneri del Gesu (1743 “Bonjour”, nice name) in a tone that I feel is less popular nowadays and rings of the old school Russian Style (in my opinion).

A/N: Could anyone better informed correct me regarding my opinion over his tone production and style, if required. Thanks in advance =)

Apparently, his teacher was quite someone.

Encore: Nicolo Paganini – Variations on “Carnival of Venice”
(I used this video as the other one has been linked on my facebook wall)

I learnt of the existence of this piece from the variations for flute, over 5 years ago. This is probably a mash-up and possibly modified version of Paganini’s variations on the Carnival of Venice. Enjoy!


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64 

Arguably the main course we were waiting for after Repin’s dessert, Tchaikovsky’s 5th was also extremely significant as a precursor to NUSSO’s attempt to tackle it this March.

The first movement ratcheted up the tempo much faster and to a greater degree that most amateur orchestras would dare to play it, and incidentally I found little wrong with that interpretation – that Tchaikovsky was irate would be an understatement, and the uneven rhythms (the dotted quaver-semiquaver & triplet figuration) made more sense rushed and hurried, if in a systematic way. Some tension was lost with the speeding up but generally a convincing first movement with some miscommunication between the winds and the strings. Our seat (stalls foyer) seemed bad for hearing the horns as some horn articulations sounded late and odd from that place . Thankfully, slight rushing between sections somehow did not lead to abrupt dialogue, perhaps helped by our seating position as well as by the nature of the phrases.

Second movement started way too fast, and I would like to hear the rationale behind that tempo, even though my limited experience may not be able to help my comprehension. Tension was quickly built up but the temporal effect was so quick that the overall feeling became “that’s it?” instead of that of anticipation. The strings did a fantastic job at the Romantic hairpins and the horn solo had an appropriate tempo but the surrounding buildups and transitions had so little time to develop it was kind of unsatisfying having to hear it. Perhaps it was a dark joke by the conductor signifying unrequited love (2nd movement is the “love” theme if I’m not mistaken), which was much more convincingly done towards the end of the movement, which was forward moving and -looking until the very last few notes.

The 3rd was probably the most satisfying movement, with the clarity and ensemble on knife’s edge the SSO seemed to perform better than when ensemble seemed less difficult on paper. Voicing was clear and dialogue was passed rather neatly, as far as my memory serves.

4th movement was exciting, and despite some ensemble problems (apparently the timpani’s which I did not notice, and the brasses which I did) the tempo was apt and shaped the music well. Apart from the strings threatening to go racing at the start of the movement, the orchestra responded and brought the whole symphony to a rousing finish, without dragging the last march section like some interpretations do, which I found thoroughly refreshing.

Some overall comments included a lack of detail, of which I did not find to be a lack of clarity, just perhaps time to rehearse through said detail. Tone of certain winds was also another concern, which I found to be generally likeable but with some entries attacked a tad harsh, but that is to my strings-trained ear. Intonation and general tone was of minor problems even though ensemble and a mutual understanding between sections seemed to be slightly shaky even if not glaringly dangerous.

Finally, the encore that made everything all right (alright) again.

Jean Sibelius – Andante Festivo

(A/N: Can’t believe it has 64 views)

Despite the cliché, you had to be there. When that first note rang out, it practically became the Andante Festivo, the one that I have been waiting to hear, and the one which upon hearing I may die happy thereafter. It left me a bit in tears and a little shell-shocked, and a little violated for not being given ample warning of its coming, and even as the last firmata (of arbitrarily great length) was played with indefinitely changing bows from the strings, everyone present was (hopefully) moved in one way or another. Bravissimi


How You Start A One Man Crusade

So I misquoted Heifetz, and badly at that. Apparently in 1969, Heifetz commissioned an electric car and perhaps helped with establishing a moderately small but significant market for electric cars that lasts till today.

On the topic of energy efficiency, nuclear energy has been widely debated in the past year, and Kirk Sorenson is on a mission to optimise nuclear energy from thorium before others beat him to it. Using Thorium as a fuel instead of Uranium oxide, milder conditions, safer waste and medically useful chain products (isotopes that are created as the result of the radioactive decay chain) are what is promised by this Thorium reactor. Frankly, I think the optimisation of this nuclear power would be the most dangerous and beneficial event of the last 50-100 years – possible war or the end of it could precipitate from this event, leading to the true beginning of the space age (or the end of modern technology?)

Apparently, creativity is promoted by solitude – given just about enough time to bounce ideas off others, geniuses (Tesla, Brahms, Horowitz) come to my mind.

A good sense of humour is never needed badly enough. Impressionists used their namesake label after critics stole the word off the title of Monet’s art piece (thus abusing Picasso’s quote from the then-future). Artwork of notable examples are still on display at the National Museum of Singapore till early-mid February. Of those that followed Monet and Cezanne include the (famed) Van Gogh and (less-famed) Gaguin. I would assume these artists were strongly (almost aggressively and stubbornly) individualistic:

Manet opened the way to Impressionism while rebelling, using the exact means of traditional pictorial representation that he had so thoroughly learned , against academic conventions that had become so rigid that they prohibited painting contemporary subjects.Indeed, because of the scandals he caused, and due to his immense talent as a painter, Manet quickly gained notoriety , and from 1864 will become the leader of a quarrel opposing the old ones and the modern ones. For the future Impressionists, he will become, after Corot and Courbet, an example of a new manner of painting, and a new guide, around whom they will naturally gather and, through whom, for some of them, they will meet.From 1865, famous writer Emile Zola, a school fellow of Cézanne in Aix, will defend Manet’s cause and his new painting in “The Event“, and become the supporter and historian of the arising movement . Painting started an all-out revolution concerning not only painting themes, but also soon its pictorial means .

Another, more contemporary example is blogger Rachel Zeng, who was awarded TOC’s (The Online Citizen) award for Activist of the Year. Her blog contains local issues, especially regarding human rights – Death Penalty, ISA etc. Her work has been featured in exhibitions (which I incidentally did not attend) as well.

Oh, on to myself. Here are my New Year Resolutions. Frankly, they are but thinly veiled deadlines.

  1. Maintain my CAP. I put this as #1 so as to throw my parents and professors off the trail of my current study habits (of which there exist approx. 0).
  2. Learn a wider vibrato and transform my sound on the violin & viola
  3. Do up a short story for the cycle every month and start editing by the June “holidays”
  4. Hit 110 on squat (without hurting my neck) and 6 pullups by the end of the year (meant to balance out and reduce risk of hurting my neck again)
  5. This is where only the blind realise I’ve written nothing about spending more time with family, treating friends better, saving the trees and generally being a protector of the Earth. This is also where I assume that I’ll have the time and focus to achieve the (far) above and keep the (near) above within sight and within mind. That may not have made much sense at all.



Passion runs cold
mutes cries of agony
tepid consciousness withdraws ever so proximally – so near yet so far
fear is on
in your veins

Coursing slipstream under waves
foolish men dive compelled

the surface calms


P.S. This is probably my most extensively linked post to date.

P.P.S. Next up – Systems and Society, Economics and Energy

Retourner à l’école

So, I admit I had to translate this because I didn’t know how “back to school” would translate, so I hope all the Francophiles out there won’t be attacking me with sharpened paintbrushes tomorrow morning while Eric Chan destroys my fragile ego at 8h du matin.

Good day started at 6.50 with my hitting ignoring the alarm (and even thinking someone was calling me at one point in that hazy REM sleep). Almost walked right into a cyclist while crossing a road half asleep, although I didn’t fail to notice that the clogged drain was still clogged. Pictures will have to wait, but the drain is clogged at 2-3 points along about 20m worth of drain, with large twigs which trapped leaflets and plastic bottles and trash and looks worthy of a beaver’s home, except beavers have more class than that.

School school school, late for intro class etc. Got bored, looked for guest players for NUSSO, set up my schedule (including SSO and YST calendars) and bidded for German, which I was to regret later.

4 hour break was spent watching this documentary on Rostropovich:

(Seriously, take a look, one of my best hour+s spent.)

Then, it was off to YST to watch Jon Lee perform during YST lunch recital, consisting of Tzigane, Nardini Vla Sonata, Elgar Cello Concerto (!) 1st & 2nd movements, and a brass quintet (yes I’m biased like that.) Shoutout to Ying Da and Liang Cun.

Alright, the brass quintet has a name – Buzz! Brass, and they played Calvert’s Suite from Monteregian Hills mvts 1 & 2.

Last lesson was the first lecture (see what I did there) of Pharm Anal II, which was a combination of queer and interesting, and the lecturer went to look for the APPS- and IPSF-briefing guy, only to resume speaking right before he came in (unknown to the former), while the class erupted into laughter as he unknowingly told us about the briefing at 3.30pm.

The most serendipitous things happened during the walk to CFA (at the start of the 4h break) and to KR MRT – the former allowed me to spot some blossoms that were located in the modified leaves of the green and purple spiky-leafed plants (yup, botanist speaking) which were actually quite close to the stem and were small and white, while the latter gave me the opportunity to spot a squirrel trying to go up a road sign and then escaped up the angsana(?) near Dentistry, with me getting about 3m from it at closest.

Found out that I got the bid for German, late for gym, weights dropped/failed on last reps for squat and press, didn’t finish cleans due to closing time, practised a little, finished Eric Chan’s 4 little quizzes, noticed a wood shard inside my violin’s left f-hole, and finally finishing this up, and wallah, it’s the 2nd day of school!