The Strait Times | December 6th, 2008
Concert Review on TO MY HOME Aileen Gozali (piano), The Arts House
All of 13 years old, pianist Aileen Gozali tackles mammoth pieces such as Chopin's Ballade No. 4 In F Minor with gusto
Pianist Aileen Gozali's closing concert in the series by musical prodigies for the just-ended Asia On The Edge festival was a genuinely delightful affair, played to a roomful of supporters and parents with children in tow.
Apart from the odd shush and creak, the former Parliamentary Debate Room in The Arts House provided a quaint backdrop for a performance that seemed more like a private tete-a-tete than a concert.
The 13-year-old Indonesian's diminutive yet elegant stature betrayed no hint of the confidence she was about to display.
Haydn's Sonata In C Major was beautifully executed. The opening broken triad motif was cheerfully playful and carried through with brisk finger-work. It was comforting to hear this oft-tested piece in a different light, with more brevity and colouration than what most youth her age are able to convey.
A veteran of the Chopin competition circuit, she chose two contrasting works by the lyrical composer, Variations Brillantes On Je Vends Des Scapulaires and Ballade No. 4 In F Minor.
The latter is known to be one of the most technically demanding of Chopin's compositions and like every child prodigy worth her salt, such demands were clearly not insurmountable for Gozali.
She could rattle off the contrapuntals, the voluminous tensions and the trickling running notes. It was quite fixating to see such a demure-looking pianist confront the mammoths of a powerful work.
Debussy's Reflections In The Water had the usual poetically dreamy sort of feel but was slightly lacking in depth and expression. She made up for this with an interesting transcription of a Chinese melody (Longing For Spring) by Chen Pei Xun.
The choice of Grieg for the finale was an inspired one. Gozali's full-bodied interpretation of Piano Sonata In E Minor was powerful, tempered by warm second and third movements where her quiet maturity was evident. However, no compromise was made in the fourth movement, where intensity and romanticism reigned supreme.
Her choice of pieces were of special significance, as all except the Chinese folk song were learnt after moving to Singapore last July.
She has shown lots of potential, lots of promise and her new home would do well to support and encourage her development.