Features, Reviews & Blogs

Finding the sweet spot: writing for amateur pianists – The Guardian, 2012

Melvyn Tan turns guinea pig : are musicians like athletes? – The Guardian, 2012

‘An exquisite set of miniatures‘ – Classical Music Magazine ‘Premiere Choice’, 2012

‘Serota’s variations are also intended for amateur performance and have some lovely, eminently playable things among them.’The Guardian (Guy Dammann), 2012

‘Tan began with the song itself, a beautiful thing that wraps the resignation of old age and the innocence of childhood together. … Richard Rodney Bennett, who found a rich, Great-American-Songbook pathos in the melody that no-one could have suspected. And yet somehow he preserved the shape and the delicacy of the original, like a bottled essence. It was a virtuoso feat’The Telegraph (Ivan Hewitt), 2012

‘Each piece flows from one to the next, abetted by Tan’s mellifluous and caring interpretations. A most enjoyable, enchanting 22 minutes of music, well worth downloading’Gramophone (Jed Distler), 2012

‘A Spitalfields [Festival] last word for Melvyn Tan’s scintillating late-evening piano recital at Shoreditch Church, in which he gave two of Bach’s English Suites and the world premiere of Variations for Judith : 11 little “reflections” on an aria once attributed to Bach, each by a different composer, seven of them former artistic directors of the festival. It was the remarkable present for Judith Serota on her retirement in 2007, after nearly 20 years as Spitalfields’ executive director.’ – Sunday Times (Paul Driver), 2012

‘The theme (realised by organist David Titterington) set out a blank canvas, stripped of any ornaments or unnecessary notes. The different voices and approaches to the brief did mean that a sense of overall structure – the logical flow from one variation to the next wasn’t there. Rather we visited different characters, talking in different languages, but came away humming the same tune. The composers generally behaved themselves by keeping to an ‘intermediate’ level, which again demonstrated that writing easy music is hard and tends to focus the technique of composers.’I Care If You Listen (Richard Barnard), 2012

‘Originally consisting of seven pieces, the set has grown over time to 12, with Tan giving the world premiere on this occasion, of Rolf Hind’s new variation a meditation on mortality, places at the work’s centre. Despite the variety of styles which range from Thea Musgrave’s linear elegance to Anthony Payne’s hard-edged assertiveness, via Stephen Johns’s baroque grandeur and Judith Weir’s glittering wit the sequence has wonderful cogency. It admirably suits Tan, whose playing combines intelligence, refinement and understated dexterity.’ Guardian (Tim Ashley), 2016

‘Tan played with consummate ease and grace.’ Independent (Michael Church), 2016


Judith Weir
Spitalfields Past and Future

Melanie Spanswick @ClassicalMel
Variations for Judith

Daniel Harding, University of Kent @modernmusicdan
Reflections Refractions: Variations for Judith

Fran Wilson @CrossEyedPiano
Variations for Judith at University of Kent
Should certain repertoire be ‘off limits’ to amateur pianists?
Variations for Judith at Spitalfields Festival

Sarah Campbell
Trains of thought