22 February, 2009

Concert Review: HKPO/Joyce Yang/EdW

pic: Silver medalist Joyce Yang at the 2005 Van Cliburn Competition (with Gold medalist Alexander Korbin and Crystal Prize winner Chen Sa)

Concert Review: HKPO/Joyce Yang/EdW

Feb 19, 2009, CCCH
HKPO/All Rachmaninov

Listen to Joyce Yang,

After hearing the excellent Chen Sa, who was Crystal Prize winner at the 2005 Van Cliburn, I had high hopes for the same year's Silver medalist Joyce Yang. Alas, they were not fulfilled.

As fellow attendee whlee said, the Rachmaninov Concerto No. 3 should have an opening full of anticipation. Downplaying here was almost an instant deflation from which the concerto never recovered, not helped by the rather directionless playing of the soloist. Tonally rather dry and monochromatic, Yang was mostly strong enough to match the big orchestra but, wiith rare exceptions, there was little sense of give-and-take. Both the soloist and orchestra lacked rhythmic elan, adding up to a rather tepid affair. In her solo moments, whether in cadenzas or the encore, My Joy (Chopin-Liszt), Yang failed to capivate.

Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 is a EdW staple, which he had recorded for both Philips and Exton, and this performance was in a similar vein, though not as well executed. After the rather directionless first movement, the more straightforward scherzo and adagio fared better. Again, the lack of rhythmic flair robbed the finale of its sheen. Here, with the brass subdued in their periodic outbursts and the bass lacking in bounce, it was left to the strings to impart some brilliance. The whole was disappointing

Overall the orchestral performance was quite below the level they had achieved in the last few concerts, and I felt even EdW's conducting was below his own average. Perhaps the China tour had taken its toll.

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