Hoang Pham – Sonata Tragica
on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall 10/2/2021
Liszt – La Leggierezza
Liszt – Liebestraum
Pham – Nocturne in A Flat
Chopin – Nocturne in D Flat, Op 27 No 2
Pham – Lòng Mẹ
Pham – Sonata Tragica
Liszt – Mephisto Waltz No
In these dark ages, with very little live music on offer, it’s refreshing to be able to listen to music online and the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall programme is particularly welcome.
Hoang Pham was born to a musical family in Vietnam and studied at the Australian National Academy of Music as well as at The Manhattan School of Music. His programme was carefully put together combining the music of Chopin and Liszt with three of his own compositions.
La Leggierezza is a work of Liszt’s which is not played frequently – it consists of layers of arpeggios giving the piece its title of ‘lightness of a material’, very soft and atypical and one can sense the young ladies of the time swooning and throwing their gloves and handkerchiefs (The nineteenth century equivalent of underwear!)
Liebestraum is the opposite – very familiar but nonetheless beautifully constructed with big handspreads.
Huong introduced the next section in which he played his own Nocturne in A flat followed by Chopin’s famous one in D flat – the similarity of the pieces was evident and the pianist’s composition although featuring more modern chord structure was really not any more discordant and was just as enjoyable.
There followed two works by Hoang, Lòng Mẹ which he explained was based on a Vietnamese Folk song and his Sonata Tragic. Both of these works had strong Far East accents. He explained that ‘Tragic’ might be a misnomer and that was certainly the case, although the first movement was dramatic and in the Minor mode the second was largely calm and introspective.
We finished with the demonic Mephisto Waltz no 2 of Liszt – one could almost see the devil’s forked tail – there are at least five variations that are in Waltz time but sound nothing like one. Full of sudden changes and chromatic scales.
As with the rest of the recital, Pham’s playing was accurate and sensitive and this last piece really showed his brilliance.
Thoroughly enjoyable and, if not the real thing, very close to it.
Tony Burke 11/2/21