The winner of the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Best Newcomer Award, Foo Mei-yi showed Hong Kong just why she took the prize with her performance at Hong Kong City Hall's Concert Hall on April 9. Two Young Post junior reporters were invited to the concert, and this is what they thought ...
Going with the flow
Foo Mei-yi's piano recital showcased not just her remarkable technical skills, but also her musical sensibilities that makes her a true musician.
Wearing a simple navy gown, the recipient of last year's BBC Best Newcomer award appeared so elegant as she sat on the bench, completely absorbed in the music.
She didn't waste time, catching the audience's attention immediately with Claude Debussy's dreamy, three-movement composition Estampes.
Channelling the "impressionist" sound that Debussy's pieces are known for, Foo's skills were on full display as she masterfully performed the famously complicated piece with lightning speed. In fact, she played so fast that we couldn't see her fingers move! The notes flowed so quickly, it looked like running water from a stream. Many in the audience closed their eyes to fully absorb this fabulous feeling.
Next, Foo played Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji's Pastiche No. 3, presenting a unique interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov's well-known, melancholic Song of India. Foo's performance reflected a combination of the three themes she had chosen to evoke in her recital: orientalism, miniature and adaption. Indeed, the pastiche retained the oriental elements of the original piece while the embellishments Sorabji added to it nonetheless shone through.
Foo then moved on to perhaps the most anticipated piece: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Her fingers flew across the keyboard as she skilfully translated an orchestral work requiring more than 15 instruments and tones onto the 88 piano keys.
Leaning over the piano's keys like a master carpenter crafting an exquisite piece, Foo delivered each note gently, with well-timed care and speed. Of the piece's seven movements, the first seemed to be the most popular, with some of the audience nodding their heads to the beat.
After the interval, Foo performed three more pieces - Rachmaninov's Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Balakirev's transcription of Mikhail Glinka, and Islamey's L'Alouette. Each piece further demonstrated her control and grace.
Delivering a steady rhythm with her left hand while her right hand freely played a flurry of sparkling high notes, Foo was simply amazing.
I think this was the most stunning quality of Foo's recital, and the clearest indicator of her music skills: the ability to play not only the most fluid notes but also the controlled sections at a strict tempo.
By the time Foo signalled the end of her wonderful performance with a victorious sweep of her hand, the ringing echoes of her final melodies were drowned out by thunderous applause.
The prolonged ovation brought Foo back for an additional performance, in which she played Ravel's Little Ugly Girl from the Mother Goose suite.
Playful and nuanced, it was the perfect short piece with which to end a music-filled night.