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Classical, romantic and modern – a piano recital by Laphawan Chavengsaksongkram

Hansori – a glimpse of heaven at Payap University

 

Classical, romantic and modern – a piano recital by Laphawan Chavengsaksongkram

Jean-Pierre Kirkland
As the first part of her bachelor degree performance programme, the 21 year-old Laphawan provided the audience at Payap University with a rich and varied piano recital on September 1. The first part was devoted to works by Schumann (the ‘ABEGG’ variations) and the Piano Sonata in C minor by Mozart. In both these pieces the pianist concentrated on her technique far more than on expression, a most wise decision given the complexities of the fingering in parts of the Schumann and in much of the Mozart. She did, however, give us a lyrical and gratifying interpretation of the adagio of the Mozart. Laphawan’s supple wrist movements and her graceful and agile playing brought out the fine melodies, while giving it a sentimental slant which was quite moving.
Laphawan really came into her own in the second half, devoted to pieces by Aaron Copeland and Debussy. From the first dramatic chords of the opening of ‘Three Moods’ by Copeland, she was convincing and dynamic. Enjoying the variable and tempestuous nature of the work, she tackled the music with firmness and skill. She brought out the contrasts between the moods well with skilful fingering in some of the trickier passages. The early Debussy music, ‘Pour le piano’, was played with considerable skill and clarity, especially in the ‘Sarabande’ where the pianist allowed the deep expressiveness of the music to shine through. In the final ‘Toccata’, her touch was firm and sure.
Laphawan has a good approach to her playing and although there were some undoubtedly anxious moments in the first half, she has a very confident grasp of the intentions of the composers and gave us her own interpretation as well as concentrating on her technique. Thanks to her teacher, Dr. Bennett Lerner, for nurturing such a talented up-and-coming musician and to the organizational skills of Nok, who is administering these concerts, which provide the public with the opportunities to share in these young students’ hopes and dreams.

 

Hansori – a glimpse of heaven at Payap University

Jean-Pierre Kirkland
Payap University School of Music has done it again – following hard on the heels of the excellent Brass ensemble came this refreshingly happy group of nine female singers from the Universities of Gang Ju and Pusan in South Korea. These were not the angelic choirboy type voices such as those in the Vienna Boy’s Choir, but a more velvety, mature and sparklingly clear set of voices that engaged the audience from the start.
The first half of the concert was dedicated to selections from the evergreen favourite ‘The Sound of Music.’ Either in complete ensemble, duet or taking individual turns, with delicate piano accompaniment, we were taken from the opening chorus of nuns through many of the popular numbers to the final ‘Do Re Mi’. Throughout, the singers performed with obvious enjoyment and sang clearly. Although occasionally weaker in the lower register, there were equally moments of great expression and force – Mi Ae Park gave a powerful rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’, the audience delighting in her smooth velvety voice which was both pervasive and mellow. ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ was magical – and gave us something that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams – South Koreans yodeling perfectly!
The second half provided us with another aspect of these talented performers – their great versatility. Opening with an impressively expressive version of ‘Oh Mio Babbino Caro’ by Puccini sung by Young Ran Lim, Yoon Soon Lee then gave a seemingly effortless performance of ‘Caro Nome’ from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Here there was no hesitation in tackling the difficult trills and the collatura section of this old Maria Callas favourite; it came across with tender expression and a delightful sweetness to the voice in the higher register. But the real gem of the evening was the powerfully delivered ‘Summertime’ from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, sung with wonderful expression by Hyung Min Ryu. Her sultry voice matched the lyrics of this dramatic song perfectly, as she gave us a memorably electrifying and persuasive performance.
The centre-piece of the second half was devoted to three songs from the syrupy and ambivalent music from ‘Godspell’. Despite the score, the group brought the music alive much to the delight of the appreciative audience. Mi Ae Park then gave a really refreshing performance of ‘Time To Say Goodbye’. The finale delighted the audience again as the group sung, danced and even tap-danced us through ‘La Bamba’, ‘I Feel Pretty’ and ‘I Got Rhythm’ in a lively coda to a remarkable evening. Needless to say there were encores including the nostalgically dreamy Korean folksong ‘Arirag’ and the effervescent ‘Yodel-aye, Yodel-ee’ (yes, yodeling South Koreans again!). The hall was nearly full and it was gratifying to see so many people – foreigners and Thais – getting so much pleasure from this very talented, energetic and versatile group.