R E V I E W S & A R T I C L E S
AUSTRALIAN PIANIST ENTHRALS LOCAL AUDIENCE
Harare - Zimbabwe, Recital 14-July 05
Concert-goers in Harare were richly rewarded for using precious fuel to attend the recital at the Harry Margolis Hall last night of Kristian Chong, a superbly talented youngster now based in London where he is able to benefit from the tutelage of some of Britain’s top piano teachers. Just thirty, this artiste is mature beyond his years, possessing death-defying virtuosity and a full command of the dynamic range of the modern concert grand. His choice of programme was unusual in that the first half was rather short, leaving room for the tour de force in the second half of the Rachmaninov Preludes Op.32.
The opening Shostakovich Prelude and Fugue, followed by Bach’s famous Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue lent a note of austerity and classical elegance which then blossomed into full-blown romanticism for the remainder of the programme. Unaccustomed to the Shostakovich, I was not prepared for the huge unfolding of the fugue after the rather quiet and unassuming beginning but Mr. Chong’s control of the keyboard was evident throughout. With the Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue, the fugue was masterfully played with meticulous attention to the baroque mood, he clearly has a strong sense of the dramatic, and this came to fruition in the Liszt rhapsody, a gloriously schmaltzy and excessively note-ridden arrangement of Hungarian folk music, one of many for which Liszt is famous.
The Rachmaninov Preludes rounding off this hugely demanding recital really showed Chong at his effortless best. His technical prowess never faltered, and the audience was spellbound by the pyrotechnics that characterised the evening. He is a modest and very gifted musician and has already made a name for himself round the globe, winning prestigious awards while still in his teens and attracting much attention.