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Canberra Today 8°/13° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Pianist’s thrilling mastery of dynamics and phrasing.

Reuben Tsang… causing ripples around music circles since 2016.

Music / Piano+, Reuben Tsang. At Wesley Music Centre, March 25. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

Reuben Tsang has been causing ripples around music circles since 2016. As a 12-year-old, taking part in the Young Australian Showcase as part of the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition, Tsang astounded audiences with his performances of Chopin and Beethoven. 

Born and raised in Cairns, Tsang has been learning piano since the age of five. Currently studying for a bachelor of music at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, under the tutelage of Natasha Vlassenko, he’s been steadily building a reputation particularly for his mastery of the Romantic repertoire. 

The withdrawal of another competitor just one week before the 2O23 Sydney International Piano Competition provided the impetus for his participation in that festival. With just one week to prepare a program, the now 20-year-old pianist sailed through the preliminary rounds, not only becoming the second youngest in the competition’s history to ever make the semi-finals but emerging as the winner of the prestigious Nancy Weir Best Australian Pianist Prize. 

This recital, part of a capital city tour taking in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, provided a welcome opportunity to experience the talents of a young man clearly on the cusp of an impressive International concert career.

After acknowledging the applause and settling himself at the piano, Tsang commenced his meticulously chosen, wide-ranging program with three sparkling Scarlatti sonatas, immediately capturing the audience’s attention with his confidence and impeccable technique. 

He introduced the Brahms Piano Sonata No.1 in C Major Op 1, with a smile, reminding the audience that Brahms wrote this sonata when he, too, was just 20 years old. Tsang’s obvious pleasure in interpreting this exuberant work in which the hallmarks of Brahms later works are obvious, provided not only a compelling listening experience, but also a thrilling demonstration of Tsang’s mastery of dynamics and phrasing.

In complete contrast, Tsang commenced the second half of his program with Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.3. Again Tsang’s phrasing was fascinating. Seemingly oblivious of the technical demands, Tsang’s approach seemed almost playful, giving the impression that he was still mining the work to share his excitement at his discoveries. 

Similarly with the three Faure’ Impromptu that followed; the brooding number 1, the carefree number 3 and the showy number 5, the latter allowing Tsang to flaunt his virtuosity with tantalising pauses between the glittering virtuosic runs.

All of which was leading to his finale. Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole S.254. No holding back here. No histrionics. Just brilliant pianism leaving no doubt that this is a fabulously talented young musician, who, if fate favours him, is destined for a brilliant career. 

Oh! And there was an encore. Perfectly chosen to settle down an over-excited audience. Faure’s gentle Romance Without Words.

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One Response to Pianist’s thrilling mastery of dynamics and phrasing.

Jim says: 26 March 2024 at 1:14 pm

We went to this concert and it was terrific. Was such a shame there wasn’t better advertising of it and a bigger crowd in attendance. A fine young pianist!


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