David Tong

Vincent Plush
The Australian (Australia)

Four international pianists, including two Russians, are gathered in a room, listening to an unidentified CD. "Guess that pianist" is the game. "Horowitz's power!" declares one. "No, Gilels's passion," comes a retort. "For sheer poetry, it has to be Richter," asserts another. All wrong! Try the young David Tong, recorded on an anonymous piano in the hothouse acoustic of the South Melbourne Town Hall in August 2003. Then barely 20 years of age, Tong arrived in Australia from Macao in 1988, and has been taught by his mother, by Stephen McIntyre and Veda Kaplinsky at Juilliard. More recently, his appearances with our major orchestras have dazzled audiences with his revitalization of the flashiest warhorses. There is something spectral and spooky here: how can someone so young have such insight into and command of this hallowed keyboard tradition? The clarity and acuity of his musical perception, buttressed by buckets of technique, bespeak a musical maturity in volcanically hot property that has confounded the experts.