The programme began with Mozart’s Sonata in A (K. 331), with the noticeable “Turkish” Rondo concluding the first piece. Mr. Howard’s performance was stylish and colourful with rhythmic strength, giving a spirited and excellent account of the Sonata.
It then continued with the last of Beethoven’s early period piano sonatas – Sonata in B flat major Op. 22. The composer wrote the sonata as a form of personal expression whereas the pianist’s musical articulation was generous and hearty.
Being a world-leading authority on Liszt’s music, Mr. Howard did not disappoint the audience who were privileged to enjoy two works from the Hungarian composer for this occasion.
Liszt’s Deux légendes S. 175 are a pair of solo piano pieces written in 1863, based on the narratives of two Catholic saints. The playing demonstrated technical mastery and the sensitivity that was essential in bringing out the contrasting nature of the two legends.
The final piece drew the audience towards the world of opera with the paraphrase Réminiscences de Norma de Bellini – Grande fantaisie. The playing was rich in textures and voices, offering a convincing rhetoric.
Mr. Howard’s performance was captivating, with tonal clarity and adherence to the spirit of the music. It was an overall technically demanding programme and yet, he took on these challenges and conquered them with seemingly little effort and made it sound too easy for the general audience.
It is rare to have a solo cello recital given by a young cellist in Hong Kong. The programme comprised a wide range of substantial solo cello repertoire, including Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 in C, Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello and Dutilleux’s Trois Strophes sur le nom de Sacher (this work necessitated tuning down the two lowest strings, G string to F sharp and the C to B flat, in order to enhance the sound of the lower registers).
It also featured “Variations Reminisce” – where Ka Lap performed his own cello piece with artwork set on stage. This unaccompanied cello recital was a great pleasure throughout with musical and visual creativity – it is hoped that more will be offered in public in the future.