Motivated by Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Janáček composed his first quartet in 1923. A tragic tale about a jealous husband on a violinist playing music with his wife (apparently, they performed Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata) and ended up committing murder. The piece is passionate, emotionally intensive, fierce and at times, disturbing and violent. Yet it was less of a challenge for Romer String Quartet. The four instruments were technically formidable, coherent, well-balanced, persuasively narrated the theatrical and psychological complex novella with their colourful sonic palette.
Written in 1887, Dvořák’s second piano quintet is certainly one of the most performed among the quintet chamber repertoires. The masterpiece is expressive, original, rich and beautiful. Cindy Ho, the pianist who played on a brand-new Steinway Spirio, and Romer String Quartet demonstrated decent balance and adopted a team-oriented approach to respond to the multifaceted personalities of the piece. In particular, the distinctive sections in the second movement Dumka were delicately depicted, whereas the Scherzo was lively, drawing the audience to spiritual climax.
Afull Beethoven programme began with the composer’s early sonata, op. 7, no. 4 in E flat major, also called the Grand Sonata. It was originally dedicated to his student Babette, the Countess Keglević. Mr Choi skilfully transformed the tonal properties of the piano to manifest the feelings and emotions of the sonata.
It was followed by two of Beethoven’s middle period sonatas: Waldstein and Appassionata. A poetic interpretation with Waldstein which was filled with romantic, energetic and exhilarating moments throughout and a powerful ending was reached with the rhythmic closing chords.
Formidable musicianship also demonstrated in the Appassionata presentation. A convincing and stimulating playing dynamic contrast properly delivered, stimulating and compelling playing with captivating pacing and phrasing.
Audience was fortunate to be able to appreciate three encores: slow movement from Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, Chopin Étude, op. 10, no. 3 and Für Elise.
The concert was enhanced with City Hall’s Concert Hall, remarkably appropriate for the occasion. Mr Choi has undoubtedly crafted an illuminating and enjoyable recital evening.