26 June, 2009

Concert Review: HKPO/Lu Jia/Perianes

Concert Review: HKPO/Lu Jia/Perianes

19 June, 2009, CCCH
HKPO/Lu Jia/Perianes

After the excellent concert the week before, I was looking forward to this second concert of Lu Jia with a Spanish theme. Alas, my expectations were not fulfilled.

The opener, Falla's La vida breve: interlude and dance, was nicely turned and atmospheric. Chabrier's Espana followed, and it's great to have a chance to hear it live. The performance was excellent, showcasing the orchestra; only a little bit of cautiousness on the part of the orchestra prevented this from being a romp with complete abandon, which is the way it should be. So far so good.

Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain was a major disappointment. The pianist Javier Perianes turned out to be just another of those over-promoted new artists (based on recordings) of dubious substance. His playing was pallid and small-scaled, with a monochromatic tone. Where are all those tonal colors touted in CD reviews? The orchestra did not seem responsive to him either, producing a tidy but dispassionate performance. I did not really want an encore, and the little bit of Debussy we got was just as pale as what went before. Duh!

Debussy's Images: Iberia never recovered from astonishingly discordant wind playing in the first section. The clarinets fared the best and Andrew Simon seemed to be trying hard to whip the section into shape. Even the ensuing Ravel Bolero could not re-infuse what was drained out of the audience.

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