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Phoenix Story Concert Tour - Adelaide Advertiser
The cello lineage of twins Pei-Jee and Pei-Sian Ng can be traced back via the Elder Conservatorium to James Whitehead, teacher of Janis Laurs, teacher to these outstandingly gifted musicians.
Playing together, they fit as snugly as the complementary halves of a Filipino almond.
In the Sonata in G for 2 Cellos by Jean Barriere, their restrained baroque style, delicate phrasing, elegant dynamics and always perfect cadences were shaped as though by one musical brain, like being able to play your own melody and accompaniment both at once.
Phoenix Story for 2 Cellos, a new commission from Elena Kats-Chernin, was surprisingly subdued, given the technical capabilities of the players and the composer’s well known vigour. Instead, repeated motifs and themes with vaguely oriental flavour invited rapt contemplation of the sheer beauty of two beautiful instruments beautifully played.
Separately, the brothers’ stories, as told in partnership with pianist David Tong, were distinctly different.
Pei-Jee’s choice of Sonata Op 65 by Chopin allowed him more expressive licence and the collaboration between piano and cello was so intimate that occasionally they pursued independent paths of rubato without losing their way. They found unusual (for Chopin) depths of drama in the opening Allegro, skittered like cheeky children through the Scherzo and graciously shared the Largo.
Tong succumbed to the temptation offered by the multi-noted piano part of Rachmaninov’s episodic Sonata for Cello and Piano Op 19, frequently threatening to overwhelm Pei-Sian and his less exaggerated views of romanticism.
Both saved their most luscious tones for the uncluttered Largo.