29 November, 2008

Concert Review: HKPO/SaintSaens/Strauss

September 28, 2008
HKPO/Colleen Lee/EdW

I attended mainly for the Alpine Symphony, my favorite Strauss. It requires a gargantuan orchestra, and for this concert many in the APA orchestra joined the HKPO.

The poorly attended concert opened with the "sextet" from Strauss' opera Capriccio, played by 3 HKPO members and 3 students. After the shaky start, some beauty gradually came through. However, it was not effective as an opener.

Saint Saens' 2nd piano concerto is another favorite of mine, but this performance missed much of the elan that the piece should have. That said, many recordings failed in that respect too. Colleen Lee played well, but her tone lacked the fullness of her recitals, for which she's more suited. The orchestra was tidy.

Colleen Lee needs to hone her bearings. She was fine once she played the piano, but everything else exuded an extreme nervousness. The way she walked, took bows and acknowledged her partners were plainly awkward, and I think these parameters are important for a soloist.

The Alpine symphony was a disappointment. It took a long time to right the ragged playing. Things improved by the time the "summit" was reached. Unfortunately, the following episodes were prosaically rendered. There was no forboding and the storm was not terrifying at all. The closing pages were nicely done though. I joked to my friend that I did not experience the "Alpine", instead the ascent of a much smaller hill. The concert shows that indeed Strauss shows up the deficiencies of the performers (orchestra and conductor) much more than Mahler.

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