June sees a plethora of classical events in Taipei. Whether because of a relaxation of teaching pressure in the academy, the impending season for foreign vacations, or just general high spirits, the concert halls this month display many alluring and substantial offerings.
Both the city's resident orchestras, for instance, have major concerts. The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is staging an event titled 2004 Young Stars and the NSO on June 18 in the National Concert Hall. This will showcase four young Taiwanese instrumentalists who are currently approaching eminence in their careers in a program of Martinu, Schumann, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.
The conductor will be Taiwan-born Apo Hsu (
The concert's long program offers the featured artists, three women and a man, as soloists in four concertos, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra. First there's the Oboe Concerto by the 20th century Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, one of the strongest works in the repertoire to foreground the instrument. The soloist will be Hsieh Wan-chen, 27, currently studying in Berlin for her Koncertexamen (Germany's highest degree in the performing arts). She's married to another successful Taiwanese musician, Chiu Chun-chiang
This will be followed by Schumann's much-loved Piano Concerto played by 19-year-old Kimberly Chen. Kimberly was born in California, moved to Taiwan at the age of four, and is currently studying at New York's prestigious Julliard music school.
Next will come Prokofiev's tough but subtle Third Piano Concerto. At the keyboard will be Lee Yi-hsin, also studying in Germany for his Koncertexammen, this time in Trossingen. Still in his mid-20s, he's been living in Europe since 1996. Finally, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme will feature cellist Lin Yi-pei, already a professor at Hawaii State University's music department.
The Taipei Symphony Orchestra (TSO) also has an important concert, on Wednesday June 9, under the baton of the celebrated Chinese conductor Muhai Tang (
Born in Shanghai, Muhai Tang (
Smaller-scale performances are also to the fore this month. First among these must rank the Bach concerts being given by the veteran Russian violinist Victor Pikayzen. These events will be of historic importance in Taiwan -- all of Bach's extant concertos featuring the violin, plus all the composer's works for solo violin, three concerts in all. Considering that this peerless music will be performed by a soloist, who famous 20th century composers, such as Aram Khachaturian, actually dedicated works to, this will constitute a real milestone in Taiwanese musical life. They shouldn't be missed.
The solo items come first -- tomorrow and Sunday [June 5 and 6] in the Recital Hall. Tickets are a modest NT$500. The First Violin Sonata and Violin Partitas Nos: 3 and 4 are on the Saturday, and the Second Violin Sonata and Violin Partitas Nos: 1 and 2 on the Sunday.
The concertos follow next Friday. As well as the two Violin Concertos (BWV1041 and 1042), there is the Concerto for Two Violins and the Concerto for Three Violins. For these Pikayzen will be joined by Taiwanese violinists Lin Hui-chun
Beethoven's string quartets stand at the summit of the genre, and Taipei's Musica Daphne is currently engaged in giving public performances of all of them. The quartet is led by the NSO's Concert Master, with the principal cellist of the TSO demonstrating the amicable relationship between the two orchestras by taking the cello part.
On June 12, the quartet will give the second in this series of concerts. They will play the Opus 18, No:2 and the Opus 59, No:2 (quartets number 2 and 8 in the complete Beethoven sequence). These are masterpieces by any standard, the first lively and charming, as well probing, the second the middle one of the three quartets dedicated to Count Razumovsky, Beethoven's Russian patron at the time. They're very different works, the latter far more intellectual, technically demanding and often vigorous and even ruthless. There aren't many other places in the world where you could hear such music for so little -- NT$300 to NT$500.
Even more reasonable in price, and playing more popular music -- though, even so, some of the finest music ever penned -- are the youthful Lin Shih-wei Clarinet Quintet
* Victor Pikayzen plays Bach
Bach for Solo Violin
June 5 and June 6
Recital Hall NT$500
* Lin Shih-wei Clarinet Quintet
Brahms, Mozart, Weber
Recital Hall NT$200 to NT$300
* 2004 TSO Concert Series
National Concert Hall, NT$200 to NT$800
* Victor Pikayzen plays Bach
National Concert Hall, NT$300 to NT$1,500
* Beethoven String Quartets
Musica Daphne Recital Hall, NT$300 to NT$500
* 2004 Young Stars and the NSO
Martinu, Schumann, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky
National Concert Hall, NT$300 to NT$1,000
* All concerts begin at 7:30pm
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