Review of
'Loke Hoe Kit: A Bittersweet Life'
(Esplanade Recital Studio, 27 Dec 08)

The Straits Times
30 Dec 2008
by Dr Chang Tou Liang

Those sceptics who wondered where the Singapore Symphony
Orchestra would find young Singaporean soloists to star in its
annual President’s Young Talents Concert series should rest easy
given the quality of new names coming through. The New York-
trained cellist Loke Hoe Kit is one of these, and his demanding solo
recital gave much reason for hope.

Sporting sunshades and a coiffure streaked with crimson tints
and sparkles, one could be forgiven for expecting the worst, but
Loke proved that his musicianship was more than just packaging.
The opening with a Desplanes Intrada and Haydn Divertimento
was a quite arresting one, at once highlighting a solid grounding in
sound production, one comfortably alternating between lyricism
and athleticism.

Off came the shades, revealing mascara and more sparkles on
the eyelashes! This seeming Boy George of the cello than polished
off Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo, a single-
movement concerto inspired by the biblical King Solomon’s book of
Ecclesiastes. Here was a time to be serious, and his oration
moved with much eloquence and persuasion, distinguished with
bold strokes and gestures, like an impassioned voice from the
wilderness.

Clearly he realised the music’s deep dark undertones, and that
without pain there would be no glory. Sharing the angst was the
excellent pianist Lim Yan, whose lush orchestral approach to the
piano part (also in the composer’s hand) was every bit as
trenchant. Lim also shone in the very tricky piano part in Chopin’s
Introduction & Polonaise (Op.3).

Local violinist See Ian Ike than joined Loke in two works for violin
and cello - Bohuslav Martinu’s Duo No.1 and the popular Handel-
Halvorsen Passacaglia. Both musicians operated like hand and
glove, adroitly negotiating the music’s twists and turns with much
relish.

The Gregor Piatigorsky rewriting of Schubert’s Introduction,
Theme and Variations (Op.82 No.2) was based on a quite brilliant
work for piano duet, last performed in 2005 by the duo of Dennis
Lee and Toh Chee Hung. Here, Loke’s relative reticence came in
the way of concluding the “big” pieces on a truly swashbuckling
high. Two of the three encore-like pieces that followed - song
transcriptions Fauré’s Apres un reve and Debussy’s Beau soir –
showed that he was most at home with the meditative and the
sensitive.


                                                                                              back