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Classical music comes to Lombok

Jamie James

The Jakarta Post

Lombok  /  Thu, August 31, 2017  /  08:53 am
Classical music comes to Lombok

Night of music: Pianists Nigel Clayton and Imma Setiadi perform a piano duet with impressive precision in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. (Classical Music Comes to Lombok/File)

Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara is famed for the rugged natural beauty of its mountains and beaches, which attract adventurers and pleasure-seekers from throughout the world, yet culture on the island is usually associated with traditional village life, such as martial arts and the production of earthenware pottery.

On Friday evening, residents and visitors to Lombok had an opportunity to experience culture of a more refined sort: a world-class performance of piano music by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Gershwin, and others, at the ballroom of the Santika Hotel in the provincial capital Mataram. 

Nigel Clayton, a professor of piano at the Royal College of Music, London, and Imma Setiadi, a brilliant young pianist from Surabaya, East Java, who recently completed her doctoral studies at the Royal College, performed piano duets with impressive precision and deep feeling. 

The first piece on the program, Schubert’s stirring Marche Caracteristique, revealed the musicians’ shining asset: a nearly perfect unison, not only in the playing of the notes but also in interpretation. 

The sympathy that bonded the performers flowed freely through the hall, holding the near-capacity audience rapt. 

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The second piece, Mendelssohn’s Duett, opus 92, opens with an andante movement with just two musical lines, like an ordinary piece for solo piano, which is played by four hands as the musicians swap off, picking up the sparkling musical arc as it glides up and down the keyboard. 

Bonded: Pianists Nigel Clayton and Imma Setiadi prepare for the show in a support of musical education in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.Bonded: Pianists Nigel Clayton and Imma Setiadi prepare for the show in a support of musical education in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. (Classical Music Comes to Lombok/File)

Then a third musical line is added, and in the finale, an exciting allegro brilliante, four hands play in a thrilling race to the finish. 

Rachmaninoff’s moody, melancholy Vocalise, the Russian composer’s famous work for solo soprano, a “song without words,” was also scored as a piano duet. 

Here, the performers in Mataram explored delicate shades of bittersweet musical emotion, which surged and receded in a seamless musical fabric that required them to reach over each other’s hands, and ended in a poignant, dying fall. 

The program then took an energetic turn with George Gershwin’s Three Preludes.

Clayton, a seasoned performer on cruise ships, introduced it, as he did every piece on the program, with lively remarks about the composer and the work. 

In the performance, the British professor and the lady from Surabaya achieved a remarkably authentic impression of Broadway boogie-woogie.

The program concluded with an exciting, flawless performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Three Slavonic Dances, one of the most famous — and famously difficult — keyboard works composed for four hands.

Friday’s recital was the third annual program organized by a group called Classical Music Comes to Lombok, in collaboration with Forum Gesek Mataram, an amateur orchestra that supports musical education on the island. 

The day before the concert, Forum Gesek presented a public master class for students of piano and violin, supervised by Clayton. 

Clayton and Imma’s recital on Friday was preceded by a mixed program of short classical works performed by the Forum Gesek String Orchestra, including chamber works. 

The stand-outs among the talented student group were Ariel, in a confident performance of Jaya Suprana’s Fragmen, and Azka Putri Akbar, with a polished rendition of a Chopin nocturne. The pros, Clayton and Setiadi, assisted in the finale, the tender, moving Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A minor, K. 414, transcribed for piano and string trio. 

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Nigel Clayton and Imma Setiadi repeated the program of their recital in Mataram at a performance on Aug. 30 at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta.