UCSI University had the privilege to have both Jun Hong Loh and Abigail Sin perform at our Recital Hall on 26th May, 2015 during our lunchtime recital. Their programme consists of 6 pieces/sets of songs. The repertoire started off with Elgar’s Salut d’amour, Op. 12, a rather famous piece. I was very much intrigued with the first songs as Jun Hong and Abigail gave a short introductory for that piece. What surprised me even more was that Jun Hong continued with commentaries of each section of this piece, giving insight of how the piece was like for him in his mind, and it gave the audience a new perspective while listening to both of them play! And when they repeated that same piece again, it gave new experience to the audience’s ears! How I wished they did that for every song they performed that day! But time wasn’t with us, as that would be very time consuming!
Songs My Mother Taught Me by Dvorak was next on their list of repertoire. I was very interested in this piece as I know it originally as a vocal piece sung in Czech and accompanied by the piano. It is the 4th piece out of seven songs in Dvorak’s song cycle, Gypsy Songs. The poem is written by Adolf Heyduk, in both Czech and German. This particular piece is rather famous. Fritz Kreisler transcribed this song for violin and piano and was first published in 1914. Jun Hong performed this piece so well! It pulled onto my heartstrings and it gave that melancholy feel as if a singer was performing it. I really enjoyed this very much! Abigail accompanied him well and set the mood for the audience.
The next set of piano pieces are by Brahms, which are 4 out of the Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118. Abigail played no. 2, 4, 5 and also 6. Abigail gave a short introduction of the piece and also mentioned Brahms’ natural temperament is so different being portrayed in his music! I enjoyed watching Abigail’s fingers dance on the piano keys, producing such beautiful music.
Next we have Caprice Basque, Op. 24 by Sarasate. Abigail set the mood for the audience and also for Jun Hong. Before started both of them started, he gave a short introductory, and he mentioned either they play it safe by playing this rather tough piece at a slower pace, or to take risk. Listening to them play, we knew he took the risk, and it was well played! Showing virtuosity with the swift tempo, really tough harmonics and very articulated fingers! Seeing his fingers dance on the violin strings, we were all in awe just by watching!
After a short intermission, we get to listen to the both of them play Beethoven’s Romance No. 2 in F major, Op. 50. Beethoven have 2 romances, according to Jun Hong and Abigail, the other being Romance No. 1 in G major, Op. 40. The funny thing was, the second romance was written in 1798, 4 years before the first, but it was published in 1805, two years later than the first. Which is why this is considered the second Romance by Beethoven. It was originally written for an orchestra and violin, here, Abigail is playing the part of the orchestra, which I think is not an easy feat as you need to portray the colors of various orchestral instruments on the piano. She made it seem so flawlessly and so simple on the piano. Jun Hong played the violin part with much elegance and poise that transcends me to a whole different world.
The final piece they performed was the Violin and Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108 by Brahms. Jun Hong and Abigail mentioned that they had a little ‘discussion’ that who was the star of this piece, the piano or the violin? But they both agreed that they had a fair share of tough sections in this particular piece. Before they started playing this, Abigail mentioned, how perfectionist Brahms is, he destroyed many works of his, hence why there are so little of his works today.
I really enjoyed this particular recital, especially those short little commentaries before each piece is being performed. How I really wish they would just give short little insights of each piece they are playing to see what they really are thinking about when they play! Truly, this was one of those memorable recitals I have ever seen!
Jun Hong Loh graduated from the Julliard School with a Masters of Music. Back in 2009, he received his Bachelor of Music with 1st Class Honors from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore under Prof. Qian Zhou. He has won numerous awards which includes the notably 1st Prize and Audience award at the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in Boston.
Abigail Sin completed her undergraduate studies with Prof. Thomas Hecht at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. National University of Singapore, where she obtained the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal as the top student of the cohort. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She then returned to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and obtained a Graduate diploma.
This article was written by Mabel Soong, 2nd year student of the B. Music Classical program.