Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Hale School Auditorium

reviewed by Neville Cohn

HernShuan Hern Lee is not yet thirteen years old, yet his skill at the piano is suggestive of a pianist decades older. I listened in astonishment to his account of the Piano Concerto No 1 by Tchaikowsky. This formidably taxing work has been the graveyard of more than a few pianists’
reputations ­ but not on this occasion as the 12­ year­ old navigated a consistently impressive way through this most treacherous of Tchaikowsky’s concertos.

Impeccable memory, an unflagging beat and consistent clarity were, for the most part, entirely in keeping with the work’s requirements. Certainly, this young pianist made the auditorium’s Stuart concert grand piano sound better than anyone else I can recall playing it over the years. The demanding cadenza was a tour de force.

On the evidence of this performance, this precocious young man is clearly set on the right path in musical terms. I look forward to listening to his remarkable playing again.

Throughout, Christopher Dragon presided over the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra which responded with a will to his direction – but evident throughout the performance were worrying lapses in intonation. The importance of secure pitch is crucial and more care needs to be invested in this requirement in rehearsal and presentation. An improvement in this area can only prove
beneficial.

Earlier, we listened to one of Tchaikowsky’s early symphonies. As in the concerto, it was clear that each and every musician was focussed on doing the best job possible; it pulsed with sincerity – but again, insecure intonation was ever­present.

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