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Cho-Liang Lin thrills Bangkok fans playing 1715 'Titian' Stradivarius

Cho-Liang Lin
Bangkok Post

Even though the rain poured heavily and the capital was experiencing one of its notorious traffic jams, the "Mozart and Tchaikovsky" concert, which was part of the Great Artists of the World 2011 concert series organised by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, was well received by local music lovers who showed great enthusiasm.

The concert featured maestro Michel Tilkin as guest conductor, and Cho-Liang Lin, world-renowned violinist, with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. The evening programme ranged from a stirring overture and a sublime violin concerto, to a dazzling gypsy-like virtuosic piece and a rich romantic symphony.

After appearing on the stage, maestro Tilkin requested from the audience a moment of silence in memory of the victims of Japan's current catastrophe.

The fast-driving rhythmic pulse from the wind instruments in Carl Maria von Weber's Der Beherrscher der Geister (Ruler of the Spirits) proved to be a fun and excellent choice to commence the programme.

Maestro Tilkin's rendition was colourful, intense and enjoyable. He has a natural way of communicating with the members of the orchestra, perhaps because he was a principal trombonist in many orchestras before pursuing his career as a conductor. When the score permitted, he let each instrument show off their solo passages while pauses of silence were sharp and convincing.

Mozart himself was a skilful viola player, pianist and violinist. He wrote five violin concertos in his teens mainly for himself to perform. Cho-Liang Lin delivered Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 213 with superb and refined taste. In addition to having a successful performing and recording career, he has been one of the most sought-after violin teachers. The audience, especially violinists, had a wonderful chance to hear one of Antonio Stradivarius's masterpieces, the "Titian" Stradivarius of 1715, being played.

Lin's performance was flawless, articulate, elegant and naturally beautiful. His skills made the sound of the "Titian" an imaginative and limitless art piece. The orchestra provided a good companion to him. The syncopated rhythmic conversations between them were subtle but spirited, while his cadenza had great facets of crystal-clear sound.

Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), Op 20 composed by Spanish virtuosic violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate was certainly a flamboyant piece among the advanced repertoire for violin. Lin brought the exotic Spanish gypsy flavours out expressively and dazzlingly, and maestro Tilkin never missed the communication between his orchestral colleagues and Lin.

He gave freedom to the Taiwanese violinist, and was able to come in precisely when Lin wanted to move forward or hold back. The piece was stylish and enjoyable from beginning to end. The fast section precise and full of not only dash but surprise as well. The audience undoubtedly had a blast and the roar of applause at the first curtain resulted in two encores.

Cast in four movements, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op 36 represents the height of Russia's romantic era. It's depth of emotional and complexity of chromaticism played an important role. Maestro Tilkin led the orchestra members to show off every possibility of nuance and sensation.

The brass sections created the bursting sound with grand character, although sometimes were a little bit off balance. The woodwind section did a wonderful job passing the melody back and forth among themselves while accompanied by strings. The famous oboe solo of the second movement played by the veteran Damrih Banawitayakit sounded beautiful but also somewhat lonely and sorrowful.

The third movement was special for its character in that the whole string section played pizzicato _ the plucking of the strings _ while the piccolo layered a bright and lively melody over it. Although there were minor defects in the difficult parts of the horns, overall, the fourth movement provided a dramatic and convincing end.