'Living with... Loke Hoe Kit & Nicholas Loh'
(The Arts House, 21 Dec 09)
The Straits Times
24 Dec 2009
by Dr Chang Tou Liang
Talented young piano and violin soloists abound in our growing
musical scene, all thanks to the platform created by our National
Piano & Violin Competition, but cellists are at a premium. The
American-trained Loke Hoe Kit is probably the most visible local
cellist to emerge since Leslie Tan of the T’ang Quartet, and one
with an attitude to match.
Sporting a gelled-up and tinted coiffure sprinkled with tinsel, he
resembles more a Korean matinee idol, but make no mistake –
Loke is totally serious. Performing an hour-long recital completely
from memory, he exuded a strong, brawny tone that served the
opening work, Frenchman Edouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D
minor, to a tee.
Well attuned to its fiery Spanish-flavoured idiom, he engaged the
music’s inherent drama and rhythmic intricacies with much
sympathy and aplomb. The slow middle movement saw this skillful
shifting of gears, from the elegiac to whimsical, with a natural
ease that was disarming. Fireworks flew in the finale, aided by
Nicholas Loh’s resonant and almost overpowering piano
The evening in The Living Room, an informal venue popular with
younger musicians, got progressively lighter. Schumann’s Three
Fantasy Pieces (Op.73) provided Loke the chance to display a
more gentle and lyrical side to his playing. A seamless, melting
cantabile distinguished the first two pieces, while the third pulled
out the stops with a show of passion and romanticism in full flush.
Both cellist and pianist traversed a rhythmic minefield for Astor
Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango, but soon established a firm grip on
the vital pulse. This is popular music expertly crafted for the
concert stage, and the duo gamely brought out its plethora of
sultry and sentimental melodies, evoking much nostalgia and
fleeting bygone memories.
There was a Yo-Yo Ma-like feel to the encores, when Loke
introduced possibly Singapore’s only Appalachian dulcimer
exponent Ivan Ng in two light-hearted dance tunes. Plucked and
bowed strings added an extra bit of gloss to the proceedings,
which had already served up its fair share of adventure and