Strings with wings

Bangkok Post - - Outlook -

It was a win­ner’s con­cert last Fri­day night at the Goethe In­sti­tut, even if it was of­fi­cially named the ‘‘Ayud­hya Al­lianz C.P. for the Rhythm of Your Life Con­cert’’ — can’t blame the spon­sors for want­ing a piece of the action!

The cul­mi­na­tion of the ‘‘Na­tional Beethoven Com­pe­ti­tion for Young String Play­ers 2008’’, it was, in part, spon­sored by the above men­tioned Ayudya Al­lianz C.P. as well as Mercedes-Benz, Singha, D&M Mu­sic Stu­dio, LTU Airber­lin Group and the Goethe In­sti­tut Bangkok it­self.

Without the gen­eros­ity and kind­ness of such spon­sors — and the Goethe In­sti­tut pro­vid­ing such a lovely set­ting for the goings-on — clas­si­cal mu­sic would be much poorer off in Thai­land.

We note with sad­ness the re­cent pass­ing of HRH the late Princess Galyani Vad­hana: The world of clas­si­cal mu­sic here lost one of its best pa­trons and con­stant sup­port­ers. Let’s hope that what she be­gan will be con­tin­ued by oth­ers, whether cor­po­rate or in­di­vid­ual, who have a pas­sion for clas­si­cal mu­sic and who want to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for youngsters in Thai­land who wish to pur­sue this very re­ward­ing but de­mand­ing path.

Two age groups com­peted in this year’s Strings Com­pe­ti­tion. A first prize was awarded in the 13 to 17 years old cat­e­gory (Group B); but not in the 18 to 24 years old cat­e­gory (Group A). The or­gan­is­ers were some­what apolo­getic; there was no need to be. The jury was com­prised of in­ter­na­tional ex­perts, in­clud­ing Anne-Kathrin Lindig of Weimar, Ger­many, and Mi­tako Kameda from Tokyo, among many oth­ers. If a first prize in Group A had been deemed wor­thy, it would have surely been awarded. It only means our mu­si­cians must work a lit­tle harder to reach truly in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Ev­ery recital, con­cert or show has a star — and this evening was no dif­fer­ent, al­though we had to wait un­til the very end to hear her. I am speak­ing, of course, of the 1st Prize win­ner in the Group B cat­e­gory, 16-year-old Yada Lee. She was calm, self-pos­sessed, did not seem the slight­est bit ner­vous — in fact, she seemed to be hav­ing a grand time. As well she might. Her per­for­mance was, sim­ply put, stun­ning. She of­fered very heart­felt ren­di­tions of Max Bruch’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo in G Mi­nor (1st Move­ment) and De­bussy’s Vi­o­lin Sonata in G Mi­nor (1st Move­ment).

To be fair, much tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency was on of­fer that evening by other per­form­ers. Some of it was a bit me­chan­i­cal, a bit cold, a bit too pol­ished, a lit­tle too per­fect. Only a few of the per­form­ers man­aged to go be­yond the strings and the notes and make the vi­o­lin sing and pro­duce mo­ments of time­less beauty and per­fec­tion.

Yada Lee did, ham­pered though she was by the ac­com­pa­nist (to be fair, the Bruch con­certo was meant to have strings in the back­ground, not a pi­ano). Her take on the dif­fi­cult con­certo was mas­ter­ful and she hit all those dou­ble notes at the end just like a pro. It was al­most im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that she was only 16 — you’d think she had been play­ing vi­o­lin for a hun­dred years.

As a re­sult of winning the first prize, she was in­vited to Weimar, Ger­many, for a mas­ter class at the Franz Liszt Uni­ver­sity of Mu­sic in Weimar, as well as to per­form at the very pres­ti­gious Beethovenf­est Bonn in Ger­many next year. (Last year’s win­ner, Thaya Kong­pak­pais­arn, just per­formed at the Beethovenf­est Bonn last month.)

Only two young gen­tle­men were among the prize-win­ners, Anawin Sat­tabovorn and Sakkan Sarasap. Sakkan per­formed a se­ries of Bar­tok’s Ro­ma­nian Dances. When I hear ‘‘Bar­tok’’, I tend to run scream­ing in the other di­rec­tion, but tonight I was pleas­antly sur­prised. Sakkan was calm, col­lected, very clearly in con­trol and never let the pi­ano over­shadow him. His melodies were clean and haunt­ing. As with Yada Lee, it was ‘‘pin drop time’’ — you could have heard a feather fall­ing to the ground dur­ing his per­for­mance, so mes­merised were we by his East­ern Euro­pean sounds.

Anawin, on the other hand, chose to play Men­delssohn’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo in E Mi­nor (1st Move­ment). Like Sakkan and Yada, he was calm, cool and in charge. The busy bits never got too busy or out of con­trol. The melody lines stood out with an aching ten­der­ness. He wasn’t just play­ing the vi­o­lin; he was let­ting it sing for him. And though his per­for­mance was quite long, he did it all from mem­ory — an as­ton­ish­ing feat. The solo at the end showed off quite well his range of tech­ni­cal tal­ents.

Keep your eye out th­ese three: Yada, Sakkan and Anawin. I have a feel­ing we can ex­pect great things from them in the fu­ture.

Other win­ners in­cluded Charat­manat Lert­sukon, Sree­wan Wathawatha­na, San­tiphab Wiriyothai, Thiti­mon Suk­jaruwan, Chatchai Sukniyom, Kamol­porn Pha­jadej, Kanae Tanaka, Patchara­phan Khumprakob, Athiya Vo­rav­i­jitr­pun, Pichanika Areeras, Melissa Si­mon­etto, Natthapong Yuth­hanasiriku­l and Runn Chart­smithanont.

Also per­form­ing that evening were Mr Charat­manat, Ms Patchara­phan, Ms Tanaka and Ms Sree­wan Wathawatha­na.


First prize win­ner Yada Lee (right) with third prize win­ner Sakkan Sarasap.

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