Arts Review

SXS Hyung Suk Bae

Hyung Suk Bae performs Bach at the Southern Cross Soloists Sunset Soirée Recital Series

Judith Wright Arts Centre, Brisbane

4th May 2024


Dr Gemma Regan


A brilliant performance by Hyung Suk Bae transported the audience “Bach” through time


Hyung Suk Bae, the adroit Southern Cross Soloist and Acting Principal cellist for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, entertained a packed foyer with a unique blend of Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 paired with selected pieces to create five delightful vehicles to transport the audience through time.


The busy Bae graduated from the prestigious Juilliard School, mentored by Joel Krosnick of the renowned Juilliard String Quartet. He is also a faculty member for music at the University of Queensland and the Griffith Queensland Conservatorium. 


Hyung usually performs with a 1700 Giovanni Grancino cello 1700 or his 1833 Honore Derazey cello, but today it was to be his new 2023 Vettori cello from Florence on show. Despite being a contemporary instrument, it had a delicious and creamy robust tone which resonated throughout the foyer of the Judith Wright Centre, piercing through the body with the delicious melodies.


Bach’s incredible Prelude flooded the foyer and elevated the soul. The second movement Allemande, seamlessly transitioned to the World Premiere of Adrian Bell’s Ah! Sun-flower! Bae described the piece as “transporting him to somewhere special,” inspired by the poem of William Blake. It was poignant with sweet sky-reaching tones as the sunflowers danced below dusted with a hint of Brahm’s Cradle song lullaby.


The bright Courante, the third movement, ran along joyfully before diving into an Aussie Kakadu lament with Peter Sculthorpe’s Threnody. The long détaché strokes mimicked the harsh coast of the Arafura Sea. With the bass drone and upper melody, it was bagpipe-like dashing frantically to a guttural terminus.


Ross Edwards continued the Australian theme with Laughing Rock and Prelude in celebration of Uluru being returned to the traditional owners. The jubilant notes sparkled from Bae’s cello in the hope of peaceful reconciliation flavoured with a Romany-styled flourish.


Bae described how he had recently met with Edwards asking him which of Bach’s movements would complement the dancing Laughing Rock. The Spanish dance movement, Sarabande was his choice, twirled and flowed harmoniously from his own piece.


Witold Lutoslawski’s unusual Sacher Variations from 1975 iterated by a six-note sequence spelling out Sacher leapt and skipped like a thrilling soundtrack until Bae thrust the audience “Bach” in time with the fifth movement of his cello suite.

Bell’s modern Gigue interpretation was succeeded by Bach’s Gigue, resulting in tumultuous applause and rewarded with a slick jazzy encore to end a unique and fascinating concert from the talented Bae. 


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