Followers of the Sydney International Piano Competition (now known simply as The Sydney) will remember 12-year-old Cairns schoolboy Reuben Tsang taking the place by storm in 2016 with his performance of Chopin and Beethoven as part of the showcase for young Australians.

Then last year he took out the Nancy Weir Best Australian Prize, as well as winning multiple other awards and being the second youngest soloist to make it through to the competition’s semi-finals. Now he is giving four East Coast concerts organised by Piano+, presenters and producers of The Sydney, to show a wider audience his impressive array of talents.

Playing a wide-ranging selection of works from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic genres, the tall and confident Tsang left listeners with no doubt that he lives up to the concert flyer’s hype of being “an extraordinary performer with a stellar career ahead of him”.

Reuben Tsang. Photo © Jay Patel

The evening got off to a bright start with three Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, with some neat cross hand work in the D major K119, impressive trills in the C major K132 and a smooth handling of the light-fingered runs of the G major K427. Tsang’s maturity and sound technique impressed from the first.

His grasp of structure and nuance were impressive in the next work, Johannes Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major Op. 1, and he captured the urgency and passion of the opening Allegro. Phrasing and the narrative line were nicely formed in the Andante and the Scherzo that followed was emphatic and accurate – in fact there were very few “fluffs” throughout the evening. Perhaps the Allegro section could have done with a little more emotion.

The Fazioli grand did sing in the final movement before the agitated Presto brought the first half to a resounding close.

WA Mozart’s Piano Sonata in B-flat major K281 proved a good fit for Tsang’s temperament. The cool and airy opening movement showed his clean and excellent touch, with good balance between left and right hands and subtle use of the pedal.

The gorgeous Andante amoroso was nicely judged and in all this was a buoyant reading of one of Mozart’s most virtuosic sonatas.

Virtuosity of a different hue was on display in the three Impromptus by Gabriel Fauré which followed, with the last of them, the No. 5 in F-sharp minor, having all the crazy dazzle and whirling arpeggios of Claude Debussy’s Feux d’artifice.

These pieces led neatly to the final work of the evening, a barn-storming performance of Franz Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole. Here Tsang’s body language was far more energetic – up until now he had shown an impressive ease and lack of fuss – and the ever-building rapid chords and octaves were carried off triumphantly.

Tsang is continuing his studies at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University under Natasha Vlassenko. He is definitely one to watch for the future.


Reuben Tsang plays at Wesley Music Centre, Canberra, April 25; in the QSO Studio, South Bank, Brisbane on 7 April, and in the Primrose Potter Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre, 8 April.

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