2012–2013 Artist Recital Series: Emlyn Ngai, violin
…[Ngai’s playing] was technically beyond reproach, but even more impressive was his ability to leave the intimacy of the baroque behind in favor of the virtuosity of the romantic”
“Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum presented Emlyn Ngai, the concertmaster of the baroque instruments ensemble Tempesta di Mare, in a solo violin recital Sunday, April 28, in its acoustically resplendent rotunda. Playing on both a baroque, gut-strung violin and a metal-strung modern instrument, Ngai proved himself equally at home on both instruments and in both older and newer music.
“Ever since I heard pianist Andras Schiff perform a recital using his own Hamburg Steinway for Bach and Beethoven and his own Bosendorfer for Mozart and Schubert, I’ve often wondered why violinists can’t manage the far easier task of bringing along two violins for a recital, using a baroque instrument for baroque music and a modern violin for late romantic and modern pieces. I can’t speculate why others don’t, but I admire Emlyn Ngai for doing so in Chestnut Hill.
“Ngai opened the recital with Thomas Baltzar’s Prealudium & Allemande on his baroque violin. The Swedish-born Baltzar score includes two Preludes rather than the one its title lists. It’s a gem of baroque elegance and exquisitely expressed emotion. Ngai caught its lyrical eloquence in playing that eschewed a wide, romantic vibrato but poignantly projected its melodies with an aristocratic tremolo on the long-held notes.
“Switching to a modern violin, Ngai projected the pyrotechnics of Eugene Ysaye’s “Obsession” Sonata No. 2. Once again, his playing was technically beyond reproach, but even more impressive was his ability to leave the intimacy of the baroque behind in favor of the virtuosity of the romantic. Ngai was equally at home in the nostalgia of Fritz Kreisler’s “Recitativo & Scherzo.” And, returning to his baroque violin, he offered one beautifully played encore – the Sarabande from Bach’s Partita in D minor.” Chestnut Hill Local, May 9, 2013.