Rethinking Senses through a unique programme of violin, harp and piano music: including works by Saint-Saëns, Godowsky and more.

The concert is scheduled for 11 August, 3pm at Yamaha Jaz & Ro Music Da Men Mall.

Senses will cover all 5 senses – see, touch, smell, taste, hear, where we invite the audience to be active participants to engage in the music. This concert is brought to you by violinist Lim Zhi Hsuan, harpist Ian Lim and pianist Sophia Lim.

Coincidentally sharing the same surname, these three Malaysian musicians are not siblings, and have never encountered each other until 2019, where they’ve met at the Royal College of Music in London whilst pursuing their music degrees. 

‘Senses’ would be an experience not only to hear, but to listen; not only to look, but to see… it provokes an awareness by sensing and feeling what is around us through the music of this uniquely curated programme. 

Programme of the concert includes:

Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (4’)
Sophia Lim, piano

Jean-Michel Damase: Sonata for violin & harp (7’)
i. Moderato
ii. Allegro Vivace
Lim Zhi Hsuan, violin | Ian Lim, harp

Sebastian Currier: Night Time Suite (7’)
ii. Sleepless
v. Starlight
Lim Zhi Hsuan, violin | Ian Lim, harp

Johannes Koch: Toccata (4’)
Ian Lim, harp | Sophia Lim, piano

Godowsky: Selections from Godowsky’s Java Suite (14’)
vii.  Three Dances 
viii.  The Gardens of Buitenzorg
xii. A Court Pageant in Solo
Sophia Lim, piano


Chai Nien Chin: New Piece/Commission (10’)
Lim Zhi Hsuan, violin | Sophia Lim, piano | Ian Lim, harp

Julian Anderson: Sensation (5’)
i. She Hears
Sophia Lim, piano

Uno Vesje: Life is Flashing Before My Eyes and I Realised it All Started with a Blackbird (9’)
Ian Lim, harp

Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (11’)
Lim Zhi Hsuan, violin | Sophia Lim, piano

Programme Notes

The title Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (The sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air) comes from within Baudelaire poems. We see plenty of text painting throughout the work that follows the poem very closely. 

The first movement of Damase’s Sonata – Moderato is a sonata form in nature where the theme is stated, restated and intensely developed, before going to the 2nd movt. Immediately after the quicksilver Allegro vivace, which has a scherzo feeling, we enter the Sleepless (2nd movt) of Currier, which gives a sense of subdued restlessness with the disquiet of pizzicato ostinato and staccato chords. In Starlight (5th movt), hypnotic figurations bring a sense of intimacy in the distances of sleep. 

Toccata by Johannes Koch features a unique but challenging instrumentation of harp and piano. One can hear the delicate interplay between the two instruments, where lines are blurred, creating a harmonious yet indistinguishable blend – is it the harp or the piano? This intricate dance of notes demands careful listening, drawing you into a world where the boundaries between instruments dissolve.

From the Java Suite, The Gardens of Buitenzorg (Bogor, Indonesia today) is home to one of the biggest and oldest botanical gardens in the world. In Godowsky’s own words: “The heavily perfumed air awakens an inexpressibly deep and painful yearning for unknown worlds, for inaccessible ideals, for past happenings irrevocably gone—these memories which the ocean of time gradually submerges and finally buries in oblivion… Why do certain scents produce unutterable regrets, insatiable longings, indefinable desires?’’ 

Inspired by Malaysian food, Malaysian composer Chai Nien Chin has written a piece where the audience can select a variety of ingredients – each ingredient is a fragmented miniature piece, and cook up a Malaysian dish. 

She Hears is a study in listening, says the British composer Julian Anderson. Dedicated to Imogen Holst, he says that “Listening is a somewhat underestimated activity. Everyone who knew Imogen Holst remarked upon her specially focused intensity when listening to music. This piece provides a very focused musical surface for both player and listener – a chord progression which unfolds gradually but continuously from start to finish”.

Uno Vesje’s Life is Flashing Before My Eyes and I Realised it All Started with a Blackbird features soundtrack playback which is a rewinded pre-recorded harp playing, and slaps on the harp strings. The slap could mean the “flash” (when life is flashing before your eyes), sometimes the slap could be the reason why life is flashing (like a car accident etc.) The slap could be a very symbolic act, a symbol for something that has to do with life and death. As the piece ends you could feel as if life is flashing before your eyes and it takes you to a soundscape of life rewinding. 

The concert culminates with the virtuosic Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saëns. The slow introduction highlights a plaintive violin melody, showcasing the composer’s elegant expressiveness. The Rondo Capriccioso combines dash, virtuosity, and lyrical beauty, leading to a sentimental section before the finale. In its violin and piano version, this piece is famously featured in the manga and anime “Your Lie in April”, where it portrays teenage musicians caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

Meet the performers*:

*Click on their names to read more.

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