Date: March 1, 2012
Location: The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong.
Louis Siu, a young and promising percussionist currently playing for the Macao Orchestra, presented a technically ambitious recital at the HKAPA Amphitheatre. The evening’s solo program swung between the brisk, whereupon Siu displayed seriously unreal mallet work in Alex Orfaly’s Rhapsody No. 2 for solo timpani, and the lyrical, where he crafted some smoothly delicious melodic arches in the African folksong-inspired Marimba Dances by Ross Edwards. The highlight of the evening was ensemble affair: a pair of world premieres of works by Alain Chiu and Austin Yip that dealt with the resonance and vibrating qualities of various percussive instruments. Chiu’s work, Resonantia Part 1, offered a rich layering of rhythmic fabric, with western and Chinese percussion locked in a fantastic duel of boundless energy. Yip’s Resonantia Part 2, scored as though it was the dramatic counterpoint to Chiu’s Part 1, was more nuanced and cerebral, with various percussive elements taking turns to shine as calls and responses of each other. The dependable trio of Chin-tung Chau, Rieko Koyama and Vicky Shin provided the necessary percussive resonance backing up Siu’s timpani in both parts. Together, the percussionists sounded like a pride of wild cats navigating familiar territory with crisp determination, yet mindful of each other. Accidental rim shots notwithstanding, Siu’s technical mastery of the art was somewhat marred by a lack of stage character, without which the musician looked stiff and robotic. In an evening with deeply cerebral and convoluted new music that wasn’t immediately pleasing to the average ears, Siu was perhaps taking himself too seriously. Overtly solemn and devoid of much public projection of emotions, his facial expression suggested a spent character who seemed more concerned about laboring to the finish than enjoying the moment. True or not, the severity of that perception cast a shadow over his technical skills and general mastery of his art.