Review: Patrick Shepherd
21st October, 2016
Slotting in this extra concert in his home town after a New Zealand-wide tour, Tony Lin gave a performance that was assured, thoughtful and full of musical interest. Unafraid to tackle meaty major works from memory (the only piece that wasn’t was, paradoxically, one of his own compositions), Lin approached his performance with a reverence and focus, projecting a Zen-like intense calm harking back to many of the great exponents of the instrument. When the sparks fly they did so with great power and weight but Lin’s gestures were never facile and one felt throughout that everything fed into a deep understanding of the music.
Bartok’s Piano Sonata opened the programme and in many ways laid out the palette for what was to come. Lin brought out the improvisatory nature of the Allegro moderato, a fine contrast to the rhythmic bite of the typically folk-inspired ideas that drove much of the rest of the piece. No mean feat but Lin managed to draw together the slightly schizophrenic threads into a coherent whole, which was also a feature of the Schubert’s massive Piano Sonata no.21 in B flat major concluding the half.
Lin captured the underlying gravity and darkness that pervades the Schubert. I was particularly taken with the delicacy of the insistent repetitive tapping of the inner voice and the perfectly judged articulation when the hands crossed. The introspection and restraint in the slow movement was exemplary and the scherzo was agile but never light-hearted. The violent mood swings of the Finale were judged to perfection as were the bell/horn sounds that continually halted the action.
Another nice touch was Lin’s own Digression, acting as an amuse-bouche to Schumann’s Humoreske, eventually segueing into it. It’s great to see Lin again turning his hand to composition and exploring that creative side of his personality. The Schumann was exuberant and also reserved when required, with the energy ebbing away before the final section featuring a rather ironic march and a profound soliloquy. Again Lin delivered and, if that wasn’t enough, he finished with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no.30 in E major. Lin’s programme notes said it all and he followed through with playing of the utmost skill, even providing a serene encore. Those who have heard Lin play before would clearly have heard that he has leapt up several gears to quite dizzy heights.