24 October, 2010
October 23, 2010, CH
HKPO-Yang Tianwa-Perry So
Official English website
This was a concert I most wanted to hear. Usually I prefer to attend HKPO concerts on Fridays, as the orchestra are usually more committed for the first of the concert pair. But I could not this time. So, on Friday 10:30 pm I received a phone call that was ecstatic in praise of the concert. Perhaps that first-hand report raised my hopes too much, as the concert on Saturday did not entirely live up to promise.
A Real Find
My first encounter of Yang Tianwa was from her first 2 Naxos Sarasate CDs (eventually there will be 7 CDs) which I borrowed from the library. All it took were a few notes to make me jump up from my seat and read everything in the booklet about the amazing violinist whom I had never heard of (the pianist is fantastic too). For here is the best Sarasate I have heard in a long time. The duo couldn't possibly have known all the obscure works when they recorded them, yet they played like they have lived with these pieces for years! Her fluid and utterly natural phrasing gave the pieces unusual breath. Her grasp of the Sarasate style is superior to most current violinist I can think of.
The Dvorak Violin Concerto is not often played in Hong Kong. Despite a little unsteadiness at the beginning, all the qualities that distinguished her Sarasate were gratifyingly present live. I was most impressed by her steady, singing tone, sure attack and sustain. Her natural phrasing revealed a maturity beyond her years. However, the wistful aspect of this concerto hides its difficulties, which are not in the notes but in expression and balance. Although she could be tender and delicate, the reading as a whole lacked a lyrical quality that should be inherent in the music. Part of this may be due to the accompaniment which, though tidy, emphasized drama rather than the dance elements. It should be noted that the orchestra was moderately reduced in the strings (only 22 violins, 8 violas, 6 celli and 4 basses), making the winds and brass more prominent in a "Germanic" style.
For encore she played a Ysaye piece, which more than the concerto showcased what this wonderful young violinist is all about: superb technique wedded to musical insight. All the Bachian counterpoints were clearly laid out but did not detract from the long lines and sumptuous tone. Marvelous!
The orchestra reverted to full-size for the Sibelius Symphony No. 2. This is a HKPO staple but this reading still managed to surprise me initially for the excellent playing and eloquent chording. Despite some unnecessary tempo manipulations, the first three movements had their shining moments, particularly felt in the almost sculptural brass chords. However, my worst fears about the inexperience of Perry So materialized in the last movements, where the various climaxes should gradually build up in power and intensity. Instead, Perry So could not manage the admittedly difficult task of tying the various episodes together and the movement as a whole was wildly incoherent. The quieter passages felt directionless, and the finale did not provide at all a sense of catharsis; a big deflation indeed. A cautious Janacek's Jealousy overture opened the concert.
There are a surprising number of personnel changes. Newcomers Colin Oldberg and Benjamin Moermond are now the trumpet and bassoon principals. Cor Anglais is now Sarah Turner. And Lisa Rogers is gone, so soon! there are now only 3 Chinese faces among the winds and brass. Sigh...
我第一次發現楊天媧是在圖書館。兩張 Naxos 的 Sarasate 小品吸引了我，不知道楊天媧是誰就借了回去。一聼之下就驚為天人。這些曲目極爲冷門， 但二人的演繹卻令我有耳熟能詳的感覺；這是一流的 Sarasate 演繹， 非時下所謂名家輕易能及！這兩張 CD 也燃燒了起來我對中國新星的希望。但這期待已久的音樂會卻因種種原因沒能盡興。
楊天媧技術上現場和錄音大致一樣， 琴音飽滿， 技巧扎實。減了弦樂手的樂隊突出了木管和銅管, 也沒掩蓋楊天媧， 但整體上 Dvorak 缺乏了抒情， 餘韻不足。其實 Dvorak 音樂好像不難，但要奏出活力， 有舞曲自然彈跳的感覺卻非易事。在這層次上，獨奏，指揮和樂隊都沒有達標， 可惜了。
Encore 的 Ysaye 就大大不一樣了。沒了樂隊的牽挂， 楊天媧的演繹自然流暢，技巧和音樂的表達兩者結合得天衣無縫。還是， 《 天媧無縫》？ 僅此一曲，已是補償的甘露， 值囘票價。
下半場的 Sibelius 第二交響曲 開始得不錯，但沒能彌補終樂章渙散無章的演繹。 本是一浪推一浪的高潮，變了沒能連接上的幾個強聲片斷， 方向感的缺乏令到結尾變了反高潮， 煞是掃興。
Addendum: Interview by HKPO
電郵結尾那句「Sent from my iPhone」，靈機一動問道：「你有Skype嗎？」結果二十四小時內
我甚麼類型的書都愛讀，小說、經典、犯罪故事、古代現代的統統都愛讀。現在讀著一本挪威小說家Lars Saabye Christensen的《The Half Brother》，男主角在二戰後長大，他的家庭表面上很普通，可是他的哥哥卻是母親在戰時被人強姦後所生的，是很曲折的故事。
我也有用F a c e b o o k ， 用化名的， 但只有廿四個朋友，都是真正的朋友。以前晚上還會用msn，現在也不怎麼用了。我很少找朋友的，住的地方周圍也是很少人居住的。平日也不出門，跟人聯絡也多靠電郵。的確， 工作上不斷會認識到新朋友， 可是很多時雖然合作愉快， 演出完了連繫就斷— 剛開始認識就要走，很可惜。有時去到一個地方演出，打電話給當地的朋友， 可是最後因為工作沒有時間約出來見面。事業正在往上走，是要吃點苦。
我喜愛Adolf Busch與他的弦樂四重奏，還有Joseph Szigeti。我最喜歡Busch的貝多芬，他演奏出樂曲的最高境界。而Szigeti的布拉姆斯我認為是不可超越的！
A Wonderful Struggle-Yang Tianwa’s life as a musician (Leon Chu)(from HKPO, with edits of some typos)
A brief Prelude. Originally, the idea was to conduct along-distance interview with Yang Tianwa by phone from the HKPO offi ce, but after the lengthy process of finding a convenient time, a problem with the hotel phone line prevented the interview from taking place. Email correspondence followed and it was then that I noticed a “sent from my iPhone” suffix. Hold on a minute; “Do you have Skype?” 24 hours later the interview was finished from the comfort of home.
Yet don’t let this lead you into thinking that she is a typical “post-80’s generation” young woman with over a thousand “friends” on Facebook and spending all her spare time chatting away on msn. I quickly realised that this doesn’t happen in a musician’s life.
So, what is a musician’s life like? According to 23-years- old Yang Tianwa; “It’s really wonderful, but it’s really tough!”
I started playing the violin when I was four. My father was very strict, and made sure I practised every day. He was right to do that, otherwise I would not have achieved what I have. I was not an especially diligent child. Many of my exercises I just played a couple of times and stopped as soon as I could play them. Already by that time I realised I had some gifts; some people needed to try things 10 times, while I often succeeded after three. Other children managed to sit in front of the piano all day, I couldn’t. I wanted to do other things. When I was little, I had to watch other children going to play after school, while my dad would pick me up from school to practise. I often wanted to read books, to play with friends, but I had to give these all up because of the violin. Looking back, it was quite a tough time.
It is generally tough to be a musician, although I am really happy right now. If I hadn’t been a musician, I guess I might be working in an office, and I don’t think would be as happy, but at the end of the day, every one determines their own life choices.
If I was to have children I would not make the demands on them my dad made on me. But if they wanted to be musicians, I might insist on helping them until they are in their mid-teens and then leave them to choose. Talent does not dictate everything; personality is more important.
A musician’s life is tough but really wonderful. You have to manage a great deal of stress and lead a disciplined life. Travelling from country to country means constant adjustment of time zones. You can only sleep until you “need to get up”. When holidays come, you can finally sleep until you “want to get up”. The best thing about holidays is not having to think about time.
When I don’t need to perform, I tend to stay home. On holidays, the first day I would lie in bed all day, reading and drinking tea; to me that tells my brain that I am finally on holiday. I love reading. I remember when I was little, I would put a novel on the music stand and read while I played, as I was able to commit music to memory fairly quickly. Later my dad discovered me doing this and locked all my books away!
I like reading all sorts of books: novels, classics, crime fiction, ancient, modern…I love them all. At the moment, I’m reading The Half Brother by Norwegian novelist Lars Saabye Christensen. The male protagonist grew up after the Second World War. His family seemed ordinary on the surface, but his older brother was born as a result of his mother having being raped during the war. It’s a story full of turmoil.
I listen to music four, five hours a day because of my work. When I have some free time, I prefer to enjoy a quiet moment. If I do listen to music, it would be part of work, probably one that I have been asked to perform. I do often listen to audio books.
If there were no Ysaÿe or Bach in this world I really wouldn’t know what to play for encores. I disagree with playing another showpiece such as Paganini or Wieniawski after performing an entire concerto. The concerto has offered plenty of opportunities to express yourself, you don’t need another chance to show off your skills. I would like to take the encore as an opportunity to give the audience something different, something to feel rather than something merely flashy.
As for recitals, I love playing Ma Sicong’s Nostalgia as the encore. I am really attracted to its simple, folk elements. In fact, most great music comes from the people. Brahms and Mozart also used elements from folk music. These are the essence of music, drawn from real life.
In Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, I am most impressed by the slow movement because of its rich folk elements. Its melancholic style is just like a folk song, while the final movement is like a folk dance. These elements really bring the work closer to people. In my opinion, this Concerto is more folk-like than his Cello Concerto and also more elegant and delicate. It’s played quite often in Europe, but audiences in Asia and North America seem to favour the Cello Concerto and symphonies; as if the Violin Concerto lives under its shadow. Perhaps it was written at the wrong time – there were too many great violin works written in the same period.
“Today in London, tomorrow in Paris, work starts at 8pm…” The lifestyle seems free and glamorous, but that is not the case in reality. Behind the limelight is a full itinerary, dictated not by personal choice but by one's responsibilities as a performer. The difference in performing in different countries is just the name of the place, you rarely get a chance to see the rest of it.”
I do use Facebook under a pseudonym, but I only have 24 friends there, all of them are friends I already know. I used to use msn in the evenings, but not much anymore. I rarely contact my friends, the place I live in is quiet with few people living around. I don’t go out much, email is my main communication method. It is true that I keep meeting new friends from work, but often after a wonderful collaboration we lose touch – it’s a pity that I often have to leave as soon as I meet new friends. Sometimes I go to a place to perform having called my friends there, but work doesn’t always allow time for us to meet. When you are launching a career, inevitably things will be tough.
To be a musician, you need to have much determination.
Yang Tianwa’s favourite violinists
I love Adolf Busch and his string quartet, and also Joseph Szigeti. My favourite is Busch’s Beethoven – his version is unsurpassable. Szigeti on the other hand has the best version of the Brahms.
To play Mendelssohn’s Concerto, I listened to the recording of Jascha Heifetz. I was surprised…his slow movement was the most beautiful interpretation I’ve heard! But his first and final movements were not especially close to my heart.
Yang Tianwa’s most memorable performance
It was a frightening experience! I once performed in Germany and remember clearly the date; 26th March 2007. That was the day I almost missed the performance!
The concert was to begin at 11 in the morning, so I got up at 8. Around 9:45 my manager phoned me to ask me where I was; the concert was about to begin. And then I remembered! Daylight saving had already started so it was actually 10:45am when my manager called. Without eating breakfast or getting changed, I ran out the door with my violin and performance gown. I nearly fainted when I stood on stage!
15 October, 2010
October 15, CH
Joy of Music Festival
Chopin and Schumann
Peter Frankl made his name on the international circuit as a young pianist in the 1960s and, since that time, he has appeared with the conductors Abbado, Ashkenazy, Barbirolli, Blomstedt, Boulez, Chailly, Davis, Doráti, Fischer, Haitink, Kempe, Kertész, Leinsdorf, Maazel, Masur, Muti, Sanderling, Solti, Szell, among others.
Following his London debut in 1962 and his New York debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, he has been performing with many orchestras in the USA (Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburg etc), the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic, all London orchestras and many others in Europe. He has also toured Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, playing with orchestras, in recitals and also in chamber music concerts. He has appeared over twenty times at London’s BBC Promenade Concerts and has been a regular participant at the Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Verbier and Kuhmo Festivals. Among the highlights of his many Edinburgh Festival appearances were his performance of the Britten Concerto under the baton of the composer and the opening televised concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Muti. He was the soloist at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at one of the last concerts Yehudi Menuhin ever conducted.
In the USA, Peter Frankl has been regular guest–artist at the summer festivals in Aspen, Chautauqua, Hollywood Bowl, Marlboro, Norfolk, Ravinia and Santa Fé and he often performs with well-known artists, such as Kyung Wha Chung, Ralph Kirshbaum, András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry and many string quartets like the Amadeus, Bartók, Borodin, Fine Arts, Guarneri, Lindsay, Panocha, Takács, Tokyo and Vermeer. He has given master classes all over the world, including the Royal Academy and Royal College in London, Liszt Academy in Budapest and the Van Cliburn Institute in Texas.
Peter Frankl’s discography is very wide-ranging: in addition to his recordings of the complete piano works by Schumann and Debussy, he has also recorded solo works by Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Bartok and other Hungarian composers, piano concerti by Mozart, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin and chamber works by Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Dvorak, Dohnanyi, Martinu and Bartok.
Peter Frankl studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest with Professors Hernádi, Kodály, Weiner and won first prizes at several international competitions. He lives in London and is visiting professor at Yale University in the USA.
His 70th birthday this year was marked with special concerts in the USA and in Europe and in Hungary he was given one of the highest civilian awards by the Hungarian Republic for his lifetime artistic achievement in the world of music.
When I started collecting records in the 70's, I bought quite a few budget records, Odyssey (Columbia), Seraphim (EMI), Stereo Treasury (London) and, of course, Vox. Like what Naxos is doing now, Vox was the first budget label that aimed to record complete works of major composers as well as little known pieces of obscure composers, all performed by promising but then unknown young musicians. Alfred Brendel, Wlater Klien and Peter Frankl were three concentrating on the Austro-Germanic repertoire. Upon the recommendation of music magazines I bought a couple of volumes of Peter Frankl's complete Schumann on Vox, now unfortunately available only in (MP3) downloads (also his Debussy). Despite many alternate versions later, I had lived with Frankl's versions for years and they remain among favorites.
When I saw the combination of Peter Frankl and Schumann I knew I had to attend. Apparently he had appeared before with the Society but I had missed it. A juror in Chopin Society's piano competition, on Friday night he played the same program in Shanghai. Peter Frankl has always been low-keyed; his under-stated style can be glimpsed from his sparsely populated website.
And what exceptional Schumann! In his mid-seventies, Frankl still possesses excellent technique and control over the keyboard. Not one to play to the gallery even in his youth, Frankl honed his technique on producing utterly refined pianism in the Fantasiestucke and Faschingswank aus Wien. In his subtle amalgamation of rhythmic felicities and a colorful palette, one can hear decades spent with this music. Many younger pianists eager to show off their virtuosity often hit harder and bend the music out of proportion; in doing so they also impart impatience and awkwardness in the frequent gear changes. Frankl has long surmounted these considerable difficulties. The smoothness of his playing belies hard work and profound understanding of the music. Beneath all this burned an inner glow that kept the opposing elements in fine balance.
Frankl played Chopin with much the same sophistication. Rhythmic figures, as in the Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op26/1, were not stamped out, but articulated. Two Nocturnes of Op 55 were much less dreamy than we usually encounter. Best of all of were a finely differentiated set of Four Impromptus and a staggeringly evocative Scherzo No. 1, which closed each half.
The joy of music!
10 October, 2010
October 8, 2010, CH
Hong Kong Sinfonietta-Christopher Hogwood
Christopher Hogwood the baroque specialist needs little introduction. But a Martinu specialist who has been conferred honors by the Czechs? His modest website biography is a must-read, but make sure you read also the CV section, where he lists all his medals and honors!
So it's wonderful to have had the opportunity to hear him with the Sinfonietta, in a craftily designed program that entertained and educated, not less for the lights shed on some of the works when he took the time for stage work to explain to the audience salient points behind some of the pieces.
Handel of course featured prominently, Hogwood being a specialist and scholar on the great composer. Two movements from Handel's Concerto Grosso Op3/5 opened the program. A marvelously executed Music for the Royal Fireworks closed the program triumphantly. The string playing was lean, HIP and vibrant, the brass punctuating and acerbic at times, the percussion rattling, all highly exciting and well articulated.
In between came two neoclassical works. Stravinsky's Concerto in D for Strings received a perfectly judged rendition. The other, Martinu's Sinfonia Concertante No. 2, inspired by a Haydn work of the same combination, is much more difficult to bring off. The small concertante group (violin, cello, oboe and bassoon) and the orchestra were cautious at first, but things got better and better as the piece got along, revealing much of the work's myriad characters. If you are interested in this composer's work, I'd advise you to check out the Public Library, where a large number of Martinu recordings are available, including many in Hogwood's acclaimed series with the Czech PO on Supraphon and Hyperion.
Most revealing, and highly worthy of hearing, were two Bach orchestral transcriptions. The jewel-like Bach/Webern Ricercare from Musical Offering sounded pristine when heard live, much more fun than when heard at home. Must be awkward to conduct when individual notes are tossed around almost note-by-note among the instruments (the so-called Klangfarbenmelodie technique). Much more traditional and surprising in its craftsmanship and impact was the Bach/Raff Chaconne from Partita for solo violin No. 2. The work sounded truly Brahmsian and the orchestration is quite superior to what we hear from Stowkowski. In fact, I'd prefer to hear it more than some of Brahms' smaller orchestral pieces and overtures. Here is link to the Chandos recording, and you can hear an excerpt.
A wonderful program and wonderfully played. The Hogwood and the HK Sinfonietta must have worked hard on the disparate styles. Most worthy of mention was the concermaster, James Cuddeford, who led in an unfailingly assertive manner and played with style.
The exact program is to be played by the Guangzhou SO, in Guangzhou and in Beijing! What a wonderful idea and salute, Christopher Hogwood!
07 October, 2010
October 5, 2010, CH
Ning Feng/Zhang Weicong 寧峰/張薇聰
三月的時候不幸地錯過了寧峰與小交的 Brahms, 這次終於趕上了, 洗耳之餘當是恨晚。他的琴音每一粒都異常飽滿, 不像一般小提琴家在琴絃上下之間會有意無意地突出，減弱，甚至僅僅帶過某些音符。加上有非凡連貫性的造句 ，這晚令人一路匯神聆聽， 且聼得無比舒服。琴是 2007 年德國的 Stefan-Peter Greiner， 音色不及意大利名琴華麗，但表現極爲乾淨，平均。
開場的 Mozart K454 雖然拘緊， 仍然顯示了寧峰的内涵。張薇聰的鋼琴不過不失，低音過分收斂；最大的問題是二人之間欠缺默契， 沒能營造一種來囘對話的感覺。
下來的 Grieg Op 8 大家都放鬆了點，張力大增, 而寧峰精湛的技藝也有了更大的發揮空間， 強音的爆發力與精凖度令人折服。這首曲子不容易掌握， 容易流於平面，二人的演繹雖然還是過於工整，欠缺了點溫馨，卻沒有冷場， 不容易了。整體來講， 上半場是寧峰一個反炫耀的嘗試， 不能說完全成功，卻是個好的開始。
下半場的三首 Kreisler (Liebesfreud, Liebersleid, Tambourin Chinois) 跟我以往聼的都不太一樣。超細膩的演繹遠離煽情， 幽幽地滲出一種回憶， 極具品味。
下來兩首中國作品，沙漢昆之牧歌與李自立之豐收漁歌當然是手到拿來， 友人說, 到這裡琴音才完全釋放出來， 我也贊成。最後是耳熟能詳的 Sarasate Zigeunerweisen。技驚全場不在話下，像之前的 Kreisler 一樣，其中的音樂表達更能為我帶來一些新的體會。
他的造詣， 我覺得不在任何一位現代小提琴家之下。既然他是 Mr Paganini, 就跟先前聼過最好的 Paganini 詮譯者 Ryu Goto 一比。我覺得 Goto 更炫目醒神， 但寧峰更耐聼， 更具潛力。
好一個音樂家！以他的造詣， 本應大紅大紫，可惜他樸素的造型可能不太適合這個浮華的世界。以他的毅力， 我堅信默默地耕耘也能“成功”。我只是覺得他的髮型， 還有那套有紅裏子的衣服， 都應該更新了。話説回來，他以後無論穿什麽，拉什麽我都會趕去捧場的。
Ning Feng Biography at Maxima (Agent)
這裡要謝謝主辦單位 “飛越演奏香港”。 他們還有好幾場好的音樂會， 值得大力支持。
Attending this recital made me regret all the more having missed Ning Feng's performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto in March, for here is a virtuoso who uses everything to empower the music, and there's no higher accolade.
Ning Feng's beautiful and fulsome tone stood out from the start. Under his fingers, every note retains its full value, a quality rare as hen's teeth today. Add to this phrasing as natural as breathing and a wonderful evening was garanteed. I fact I had rarely felt so relaxed and satisfied at a concert.
The partnership with pianist Zhang Weicong in Mozart K454 was nice but too restrained and failed to convey a sense of dialogue. The Grieg Op 8 fared better. IMHO this sonata is difficult to bring off. Ning Feng really dug hard into the big moments though the duo again was a little too cautious in the more cantabile passages. However, the overall flow and sense of structure was first-rate.
The second half yielded to virtuosic or violinistic pieces. The Kreisler (Liebesfreud, Liebersleid, Tambourin Chinois) pieces were superbly refined. Ning Feng did not milk these for their juices; instead he presented them as moments of inner reflection, which they do represent. Consequently, he found more in these miniatures than most violinists. With the two Chinese miniatures that followed, his tone further blossomed, culminating in a superbly musical Sarasate Zigeunerweisen, where his technical wizardry was given full reign.
In my book, the unassuming Ning Feng catapults to the top of the heap, and needs to yield to none. Other favorites that I like to watch are Augustin Hadelich, Ryu Goto and Hilary Hahn.
Thanks are due to the presenter, Premiere Performances, who has a few more wonderful young artists in an upcoming series. I urge you to attend.
07 September, 2010
September 3, 2010, Shenzhen Concert Hall
"Vienna Classical String Quartet"
The quartet (info here) is formed of members of the VPO, and the concert is part of a 3-part series at the SZ Concert Hall, the rest of the two featuring the concertmaster and celli. The name of this string quartet is surely improvised. They did not call themselves the VPO string quartet (like the old Decca recording ensemble). Interestingly, there's a Vienna String Quartet from South Africa! A search on the internet came up with nothing, except confirming Daniel Forschauer, Marian Lesko, Wolf-Dieter Rath and Gerhard Kaufmann are surely bona fide members of the VPO.
Immediately, in the opening Haydn "Serenade Quartet", a famous but spurious work likely by Hofstetter that still carries the catalog number Op3/5, the foursome showed its mettle as bearers of the Viennese tradition. The ensemble sound was sweetness incarnated; lines were fluent and elegant; inner details finely illuminated and impeccably balanced. I have never heard better Haydn. While the perfect ensemble continued to bring pleasure in the less often played Beethoven Op18/4, one did feel a little more sturm und drang would have been welcome.
The second-half opened with a finely judged Shostakovich morsel, Adagio-Allegro, and culminated in an incomparably elegant performance of Dvorak's "American" Op, 96. As in the Beethoven, the quartet did not wear their heart on their sleeves, but thier finely chiselled performance was monumental on its own terms. For encores, they brought down the house with an inimitable Sperl Polka (Johann Strauss) and a Chinese song transcription.
Hearing this perfect ensemble of incomparable sweetness left one in no doubt as to why the VPO are as great as they are.
01 September, 2010
August 28, 2010, 深圳音樂廳
張昊辰為李雲迪師弟，在 2009 年 Van Cliburn 大賽奪冠:
BBC Magazine Interview
曲目很重，上半場是全套 24首前奏曲 preludes, 除了稍停兩次抹汗外，一氣呵成， 自然細膩。這殊不簡單， 因爲 24 首裏變化萬千，連大師都未必能完全掌握每一首 (想想，有多少個錄音是完美的？)。下半場更是驚人， 全套 4首敍事曲 Ballades, 挑戰性只有更高， 一樣是順理成章， 完成度極高。我當時在想，我聼過的全套錄音不下二三十個，可說沒有一個能令我完全滿意。就算現場較容易討好， 還是令人佩服。Encore 的一段 Stravinsky Petroushka 有非常多細微的變化，表現的技巧更是令人咋舌 。
我不是說他完美無瑕，但過程是流暢的，沒有任何造作的感覺。演出結構性極強，偏向中性，乾淨利落，有時令我想起 Pollini；也時而感覺到有點 Zimmerman 那種特殊的集中力。當然比起前輩還是稍有不足， 陽剛之處有時可以加強。但我已覺得他前途無量！
2009 Van Cliburn gold medalist Zhang Haocheng gave a captivating recital in Shenzhen. The heavy all-Chopin program comprised the 24 preludes and the 4 ballades. Aside from his beautiful touch and singing tone, he impressed me greatly with his structural grasp, which gave the sets a feeling of inevitability that only a master can impart. While his playing was warm, it was not overly so and veered towards the neutral. At time he had something of the detachment of Pollini, at others the concentration and intensity of Zimmerman. The movement from Petroushka he gave as an encore was his calling card and magnificently rendered. I'd like to hear him again, soon.
16 August, 2010
As usual, there were 2 concerts in succession.
August 11, CCCH
Conductor: Richard Pontzious; Cello Soloist: Alban Gerhardt
Although I am not enamored of the conducting of Pontzious, I went for the Don Quixote. The orchestra played very well, and I think this incarnation is better than last year's in the winds and brass departments. For my taste, the big moments were too controlled and underplayed; youngsters should have fun with the cacophony! This made the piece a little too introspective and serious. Soloist Alban Gerhardt (he has an interesting website and a nice blog) was marvelous, coaxing a beautiful and refined tone from his cello. Most notable also was the lady viola soloist, who played sinuously, with phrasing that much belied her age. That was some of the best viola playing I have ever heard. During applause, Gerhardt nicely and generously gave her credit several times, outnumbering his token appreciation of the concertmaster and others. She deserved it. There was no encore.
I skipped the second half, as I am not fond of the Rosenkavalier waltzes (though I love the opera). And Don Juan needs a really great conductor to make it shine.
August 12, CCCH
Conductor: James Judd; Cello Soloist: Alban Gerhardt
This concert was better attended than the last. The Schumann cello concerto was beautifully played by Gerhardt, but the accompaniment was a little subdued; the reduced orchestra was probably not a great idea. Applause was plentiful and a sublime Bach encore was offered. Gerhardt's phrasing was totally natural and his variation of timber masterly, all the while maintaining the tempo. "Better than Rostropovich!", my friend said.
I had high expectations of James Judd, and he immediately showed his colors with the Mahler Symphony No. 5. The opening Funeral March and the ensuing movement were beautifully balanced and unfolded inexorably, with a momentum lacking in recent HKPO performances. The Adagietto was beautifully judged, never at the risk of lapsing into soap. The fly in the ointment was that the Scherzo and Rondo Finale that flanked it were a little too studied by half. A little more earthiness and wildness rather than refinement would have been welcome. Nonetheless, the finale was rousing. Overall the playing was marvelous and more even than last year. Gerhardt was playing in this piece in the cello section, sitting all the way back. What a thoughtful musician!
Here is what Gerhardt wrote about his experience with the AYO on his Blog:
"...Almost 25 years ago I joined the Federal Youth Orchestra of Germany (BJO) in which I played altogether for three years every summer, Easter and winter (and one extra session I don’t remember when). This absolutely changed my life as a musician because it brought me together with young people like me, talented and dedicated to music, different to the other kids in school, sometimes outsiders, but never really geeks or nerds. Playing music together in an orchestra after practising all these years on my own was mind-blowing, an experience so elevating that after the first session I just knew that I would not want to have any other profession than playing music, for the rest of my life. When I was asked to play five concerts with the Asian Youth Orchestra I agreed, first a bit half-heartedly because I wanted to provide real good summer holidays for my son János, but then nostalgia took over and I wanted to relive the time in a youth orchestra.
Two weeks ago we arrived in Hong Kong, Janos and me. The AYO had gracefully accepted inviting him along myself, and in these two weeks we absolutely had a blast together, playing concerts, travelling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and Seoul for these five concerts, but also doing fun stuff like wind surfing in Cheung Chau, visiting the fun Ocean Park, beautifull located on the other side of Hong Kong island, shopping, playing games and in the pool, reading and just enjoying the wonderful food and restaurants in these Asian cities. But for me even more fulfilling was the artistic experience. With conductor (and friend) James Judd I performed three times the Schumann Concerto, participating twice in my fery first Mahler Symphony ever (No.5) in the second half, and with the founding conductor Richard Pontzious we did Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote, one of my all-time favorite orchestral works - always glad to play it, even though I find it harder than a “proper” cello concerto.
From the first rehearsal on I was amazed by the abiltiy of these youngsters from ten Asian countries to really listen to what I was doing, especially in the Schumann. At yesterdays last performance in Seoul I felt inspired to take as much freedom as I hardly ever do, because I knew they would be with me. For me the amount of freedom depends on the willingness and abilty of the people collaborating, because for me the most important goal is the over-all performance, not just my little part. I am play so freely that nobody can actually be (and feel) with me, it just feels (and sounds) wrong to me, and yesterday I felt I could do anything coming through my mind and the AYO and James would be there already! The Don Quixotte is obviously much less of a concerto, but even there we had some wonderful interaction and at certain passages we all were very spontaneous. I felt really sad leaving the orchestra last night, not because I did sooo much bonding with them (as I said, I was being mainly father and soloist, not too much time to share time with the other musicians, and much as I would have loved to), but because I enjoyed making music with them.
They will continue the tour to China and Japan with wonderful cellist Jian Wang taking over, and I am sure it will be a great experience for them doing the same pieces with another soloist who will bring his view and different ideas onto the stage. Janos and me are sitting at Hong Kong airport on our way to a five-day-escape to Phuket, Thailand, before school starts next week. Hopefully some more windsurfing there…."
13 August, 2010
August 4, CCGT
關於這舞的背景，除了上面兩個官方網站外，網上有些值得看的資料， 我不用多寫。 先請看 排練的情況 （還有 這個 和 這個 Blog)。至於這舞的評論，奇怪地卻不是很多， 可看看這一個較有詳細描述的 Blog.
我一向認定，大部分表演藝術，原創者用越多的文字去形容他的構思和靈感的泉源， 就是越牽強， 甚至於造作的。其實很多的文字都是後話，源於創作之後。
這舞說的是一種傷逝或壞死吧，但下半場的蛻變來得未免突然了點。上半場花中的歡愉，雖然有飃來的頭髮前來警示，仍是單純的，全體舞者青春自然，刹是好看。下半場就那麽搖身一變，複雜了， 花也全沒有了，舞者或在浮游， 或在掙扎， 在有自戀之嫌的大鏡裏自憐。這裡我要挑明，我不是一般的臺灣人，對林懷民-雲門沒有特殊的感情， 但看過一些。一向對他的編舞有保留，最不喜歡的是那種強說原始強說生命力的東西（如 九歌），最喜歡的是單純的表達， 如書法系列 （裏面也最多舞者的創作和奉獻）。
25 July, 2010
July 23, 2010, 深圳大劇院
深圳交響樂團-Christian Ehwald-Adam laloum
是日並沒暴雨，也沒大塞車，但觀衆仍然慢條斯理地遲到，令人厭煩。上半場是 Brahms 鋼琴協奏曲第二號，到了尾樂章時仍有人入席。
Adam Laloum 駝著背，看來弱不禁風，真的有點像 Francois-Frederic Guy。他 2009 年獲得 Clara Haskil 國際鋼琴大赛第一名(也看看這個 Blog)，技術故然不差，但論力度卻不在強手之列。 第一樂章大家比較謹慎。聼得出 Laloum 細膩之處，但 Brahms 的激情就差了點。樂隊也只是不過不失， 缺點流暢。第二樂章開始漸入佳境， 有點火花； 第三樂章的大提琴獨奏異常吸引 (代理首席吳臻， 留意他很久了，是一個很好的樂手)。整體上， 是一個好演繹，但欠缺了生動的舞曲感，沒臻先前 Brahms 的最高水準，也再一次印證鋼琴協奏曲第二號是難度特高的曲子， 對獨奏和樂隊都是最高的挑戰。Encore 是 Brahms 的 Intermezzo Op 117 之一， 彈的很慢，但很有味道。這個鋼琴家值得留意。
下半場本是 Brahms 第二號交響曲，調到上星期了，取代的是 Tchaikovsky 第五號交響曲。我問了團長，原來這一切的調動都是因爲應付 30 號在上海慶世博的音樂會。果然嚴陣以待之下，表現就是不一樣, 精確得來更是流暢，感情表達奔放但不濫情， 難得一聼， 尤勝港樂同曲幾次味如嚼蠟的演繹，這令我對 Ehwald 演奏俄國音樂刮目相看。
18 July, 2010
July 16, 2010, 深圳大劇院
深圳交響樂團-Christian Ehwald-David Drost
是日颱風效應， 深圳大塞車， 快八點入場時，場内空空如也。 團長陳川松出來説遲十分鐘開場， 大家包涵。
上半場開始了，觀衆還是不停地陸續入場。Prokofiev Symphony Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 是首很長的曲子， 居然到了第二樂章尾那些門還是在開開關關， 非常擾人。無論什麽原因， 叫準時的人去將就不準時的人，是不對的， 也不公平。
David Drost 是新秀， 把一把新琴拉得很好， 只是低音稍嫌薄弱。兩個德國人的演出很是工整，節奏上可以更鮮明些。這曲子比有些交響曲還長，變化多，不容易處理，能聽到就很滿足了。
下半場由原本的 Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 改爲 Brahms Symphony No. 2。 Ehwald 的演繹雄風斗斗， 一氣呵成， 可惜的是這晚木管和銅管稍微失色，銅管首席更是不穩定，令音樂婉轉之處未能達意。整體沒有以前 No. 3 和 No.4 出色。
15 July, 2010
July 10, 元朗劇院
主演: 焦媛, 尹子維
賣座並不理想，報載："...焦媛、高志森及李潤祺...(七月 四日)去到元朗派發宣傳單張，宣傳今個月在元朗劇院演藝廳上演的舞臺劇《金鎖記》。雖然昨日氣溫高達攝氏三十度，但焦媛依然向大小巿民包括菲傭派發單張， 務求為舞臺劇進行最後的宣傳..."
此戯初演在國内巡迴時很是轟動，很多媒介都詳細報道過， 也不乏見解 (文匯報，中國網，新浪網，南方周末 )。我這裡就不多說，只談一些感覺：
導演 除了一兩部早期的電影外，我從來都覺得許鞍華永遠都差了那一點點， 更常是“差之毫釐，謬之千里”， 像工匠多於藝術家。許鞍華在場刊裏說: "...金鎖記其實特別慘烈，惡毒， 我希望盡量弄得有生氣些， 若太低沉， 悲哀，觀衆會看不下去。 所以，這次處理上相對活潑， 也有點喜劇色彩..."。對我來說，這就是問題。其實我看這小説，覺得曹七巧是潑辣不討好，但所謂 “角色太沉重 “ 我怕只是導演性格上的包袱，多説好少說壞的壞習慣。既是如此，何必偏偏要導這一個故事呢？焦媛這“風格化”的演出，替觀衆卸下的不只是沉重，更多的是原氣，難怪那些年輕觀衆沒任何承擔地笑個不停。不得不問，這是張愛玲嗎？再問，他們知道張愛玲是誰嗎？
演員 焦媛是天生的好演員，“風格化” 的問題不在她。她全情投入，臺詞字字珠璣，擲地有聲， 更有唱戲般的節奏感，實屬難得。尹子維就不行了。我覺得姜季澤這角色， 雖是敗家子， 卻仍是大家出來的人。 尹子維熊非但沒那氣質，就差那麽一點就變得有點猥瑣了(這裏面也有導演的問題)。我在想，這角色要是由杜汶澤演就好了。其他的演員都很稱職。
佈景簡約， 大致到位，只缺點靈氣。燈光沒有什麽特別， 不過不失。兩者可能也沒什麽發揮的空間。
10 July, 2010
July 10, 2010, CH
Hong Kong Sinfonietta - Benjamin Schmid - Ariel Zuckermann
Rossini - Beethoven - Shostakovich
I attended the concert for two reasons: to hear the always stimulating Benjamin Schmid, and to check out the conductor Ariel Zuckemann. The latter is assistant to Ivan Fischer at the wondrous Budapest Festival Orchestra, a not insignificant post. I was rewarded on both counts, it being the best Sinfonietta concert I have attended.
The opening of Rossini's William Tell overture set the mark for the wonderful evening. I don't know why Laurent Perrin is now only assistant to principal cellist 張培節, but musically it mattered little as the duo, as well as their colleagues, played rapturously in the finely spun part-writing for lower strings. Congratulations for delivering the most poetic and atmospheric orchestral lower string passage I have ever heard. Better still, the conductor molded the long overture carefully, maintained coherence and injected much color and excitement. Despite the familiarity of the theme, this sprawling overture to the sprawling opera is actually not easy to bring off. Here, one must commend the wonderful winds of the Sinfonietta.
Benjamin Schmid delivered a patrician reading of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, with able support from the orchestra and conductor. As in the second-half of the recital 2 days ago, his tone was beautiful and ample, and he played with fluidity and ease. The whole was immensely satisfying.
The cogent reading of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 must be counted a miracle. The all-important opening was brilliantly delivered (as few on recordings). The strings were well-articulated, yet expressive, macabre and nonchalant by turns. The winds and brass punctuated the proceedings with controlled yet spirited outbursts. The reading had an easy flow, and the hairpin dynamics sounded utterly natural under the able conductor's hands, no mean feat. If the reading did not erase memory of the 2006 VPO/Gergiev performance, which brought out more tragedy, it was a completely valid performance able to stand on its own, illustrative of the central enigma and superior in conception to many a recorded performance. Even if the energy ebbed slightly towards the end, it was still a valedictory reading to put alongside this year's Shostakovich bounty (HKPO's No. 11 and SZSO's No. 15). Congratulations are in order.
A word on the excellent Sinfonietta Musicians. It should be kept in mind the strings were small (maximum 10, 10, 8, 6, 4 for this concert) but sweet and steady. The concertmaster designate James Cuddeford was outstanding in his leadership. In the other sections it's really too bad the roster had to change so often, and I miss some of the previous players and principals. But as a whole I have to say, judged by this concert, the wind section, exposed by the small string section, are the best ever. Not only were the principals steady, so were their seconds. Even more importantly, they cohered into a whole that was more than the sum of the parts, something the HKPO winds have yet to do. The brass too were very steady. A great job!
The big question is, with this orchestra, how long can that be maintained? I wish at least until Zuckermann's returns (hopefully soon)!
08 July, 2010
July 8, 2010, CH
Benjamin Schmid is certainly not a household name, but I have always liked him. On records he always comes across as thoughtful and challenging, in material as diverse as Bach, Brahms and Ysaye (many are available in the library). I heard him live with the Sinfonietta in the Brahms concerto in 2006, and I append below my brief notes written at that time. Here is an excellent Interview of Schmid.
Dejan Lazic is also no stranger to HK. However, his previous appearance with the HKPO, Rachmaninov Variations on a Theme of Paganini in 2007 had left me stone cold, and I also append my notes then below.
I have mixed feelings about the first half. Given that Schmid won both the Mozart and Beethoven prize in the Carl Flesch competition, I was puzzled by the readings, which lacked refinement. Sitting 7th row near-center, Schmid's coruscating (but not infallible) technique was very much evident, indeed often too much in-your-face. Especially in Beethoven's Op 30/2, his slashing attacks, deliberate coarse, often had me jumped out of my seat. Now, here I'd like to say that I have always preferred my Beethoven on the move and think of a little coarseness part and parcel of the music. But here together with rhythmic over-emphasis the effect was just too unrelenting. Schmid brought out many details but his dynamics were often exaggerated, even idiosyncratic. Complicating the picture was the somewhat reined-in piano. Lazic played well and ensured texture was always clear. But for me, these are Sonatas for Piano and Violin (piano labeled first), and the piano needs to come out more. Schmid has ample volume and could have withstood a stronger challenge from the piano, more pedaling. An example for me was the andante of Mozart's K376, where the violin melody, beautiful as it is, is simple and repetitious, and a more forthrightly singing piano would have been welcome. But the pairing of the sonatas had its illuminating side: it was interesting to compare the two rondo finales, not as different in these hands as it may seem! All in all, challenging music making, and not a boring moment, but I wished for more relaxation.
The second-half, in contrast, was as flawless a recital as it could be. I very much enjoyed the pair's big-boned and fluid rendition of Bridge's Sonata (1904). Here was everything lacking in the first half. Refinement, beautiful tone, passion. It was more enjoyable than the usual rendition of a Brahms sonata, which often puts me to sleep in lesser hands. Three wonderfully idiomatic Gershwin-Heifetz transcriptions rounded out the perfect half. Another Gershwin was the only encore. I must say in the Gershwin I fancied I heard the characters singing - these were renditions worthy of putting alongside Heifetz.
I eagerly look forward to Schmid's Beethoven concerto with the Sinfonietta on Saturday.
"...The second-half Brahms concerto was tightly argued. Benjamin Schmid delivered a rather refined reading. Our opinions were rather divided. His tone was interesting, penetrating and forceful in the upper registers, but to me at times quite coarse and sucked-out in the middle. The orchestra accompanied competently, and the audience was enthusiastic..."
"...This is probably one of the worst recent concerts of the HKPO...In between came Rachmaninov's Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Dejan Lazic had made a name for himself for being unpredictable. This time he was pretty bad. He sounded weak, emphasized the rhythmic but was superficial, almost devoid of tonal shadings. The orchestra played well though. The Scarlatti encore though was quite beautifully played..."
06 July, 2010
HMV Sale - Australian Eloquence
HMV Hong Kong is having a sale on Australian Eloquence, at prices that are cheaper than down Oz. In recent years, Australian Eloquence has done great service to the classical world by re-issuing for the first time many deserved recordings.
The entire catalogue is difficult to find. Here is Buywell's 2009 Catalogue of Australian Eloquence in pdf form.
For me, among the choice items:
-Ernst Ansermet. This prolific Decca "house" recording artist recorded a lot more than what was internationally issued by Universal. Australian Eloquence has rectified this by issuing previously unavailable Brahms, Prokofiev, Schumann etc. For me, there is not one unworthy. Click below for 2 excellent overviews of this conductor:
-Arthur Grumiaux. Another artist who has recorded a lot more than issued so far on CD (except for a previous Japanese edition). Among Australian Eloquence's offerings are wonderful recordings of baroque music etc.
-Ruggiero Ricci. Previously you have to find many of his best recordings (always a firebrand) on Taiwanese Decca. Now they are conveniently bundled. Some items, like Bach and Hindemeth, are new to CD.
-Other good recordings by Paul Kletzi and Walter Weller.
Two exoticas that are highly regarded in HiFi are Witches' Brew and Royal Ballet Gala (pictured above), but these 2 items may be out now, as I failed to get extra ones for friends.
03 July, 2010
29 June, 2010
June 27, 2010, CH
Piotr Anderszewski recital 彼得.安德塞斯基
Hard on the heels of Zimerman came his compatriot Piotr Anderszewski, another serious Polish pianist who has garnered accolades everywhere.
Although Anderszewski is not as well known in HK, and ticket prices were a lot cheaper than Zimerman's, many in the know regard him as a pianist's pianist. The recital took place Sunday evening and the hall was mostly full, in an austere program typical of the pianist.
The pianist is an interesting fellow. Make sure you visit his Official website. His hero is Richter and make sure you read that link. Indeed Bruno Monsaigeon, who made a film on Richter, thought highly enough of him to have made one on Anderszewski too. The website also contains many concert reviews, where you shall find many of the same pieces played at this concert. I shall cite just two:
Carnegie Hall concert 2008 (Beethoven Op110)
London 2005 (Szymanowski Metopes)
Anderszewski took a while to settle into Bach's English Suite No. 5. Although the voicing was perfect and one could hear every strand, I missed a certain joie de vivre that others, say, Perahia, can convey. This music should dance more. Then came Schumann's Six Etudes in Canonic Form, where the pianist came to his elements, finding plenty of poetry and color even in the austerity. This rare work is a curiosity, written for the pedal piano (read more in this link) (apparently, a piano fitted with extra pedal keys like organ, to be played with the feet). I have no idea how it is adapted/transcribed to be played with just 2 hands. I found it of grave beauty, deserving to be heard more often.
The second half began with Szymanowski's Metopes. This atmospheric score by the Polish composer is one of his calling cards and needless to say it was wonderful. With this pianist, every strand is in place, and even the more lurid and perfumed episodes sounded colorful but not vulgar, more impressionistic than sensual.
Beethoven's Sonata No. 31, Op 110 received an immaculate reading. With superb composure, voicing was lucid and much detail was revealed over its span. However, I missed a sense of struggle and would have preferred more pointing in some of Beethoven's more jagged, even jazz-like, rhythms. This interpretation revealed more the ethereal elements and repose.
The first encore, Bartok's Three Hungarian Folksongs, was spectacularly energized and singing, with all the dance elements and rhythmic pointing I did not find in the concert elsewhere (let's not forget the pianist has a Hungarian parent). The second was an atmospheric piece, perhaps something from Masques?
Comparison with his compatriot Zimerman is inevitable. Anderszewski sometimes reminds me of the senior pianist for his superb concentration, tendency towards austerity and a fastidious, near-perfect balance of voices. Comparison of the two pianist was quite fascinating and not at all always to the senior pianist's flavor.
Who is Kornel Zempleni?
I have to confess that when he played the first encore, I knew I had heard it before, and not only once, but could not place it. It was when searching some of the other reviews that I found the piece. What a lovely piece that one would never guess it is from Bartok. While researching I came across this mesmerizing youtube:
Kornel Zempleni plays Bartok Three Hungarian Folksongs
I was mesmerized by Zempleni's ethereal reading, which is completely different from Anderszewski's more unexpectedly earthy account. Aside from some youtube fragments, I found little info on that pianist:
I shall be on the lookout for his recordings on Hungaroton. If you have more info on him, let me know.
27 June, 2010
June 26, 2010, CCCH 香港文化中心
Prokofiev - Rimsky-Korsakov
I was unfortunately out-of-town for Wang Yuja's last recital. My friend's words of mouth became my envy. Finally I was able to catch up with this young talent, who had seemingly come out of nowhere to shake the piano world, and she largely did not disappoint.
The Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 deploys a huge orchestra and is a definite challenge for any soloist. Conductor Tang Muhai made no concession to his soloist with a blazing accompaniment. Rather than fighting against the orchestra, as a lesser soloist is wont to do, Wang Yuja was an equal partner. Her phenomenal storming ability in the percussive passages and unusually strong bass ensured that she could be heard in tutti. Even more satisfying was the sense of partnership; soloist and orchestra showed interplay, as well as integration in the many concertante moments. A mature fluidity belied her age. If there is anything that I had reservation about, it is that in the notes beneath the mezzo level her piano tone was curiously not as strong and full-bodied, even vacuous. This made her indistinctive in the softer passages. Here her sforzando's were also not pointed enough. Indeed, despite her percussive prowess, her Prokofiev was remarkably smooth, perhaps a bit too much so for me. The first encore happened to be one of Stravinsky's Three Movements from Petroushka, her CD of which we had played earlier in the afternoon at a friend's house. Her performance was much like the recording, and I agree with Andrew Clement's review in the Guardian, that it was "...lightweight and never remotely dramatic...". The second encore, Chopin, on the other hand, was quite beautiful, if just a little too manicured and short of haunting.
The conductor deserves great credit for the coherence of the concerto. Tang Muhai had a thorough grasp of the Prokofiev style. His rhythmic exactitude, precise dynamic gradation and fastidious balance of voices similarly brought forth an uncommonly involving Prokofiev Symphony No. 1. The "Haydnesque" elements were very much in evidence. There were slashing accents, a singing line and bouts of high drama, indeed sturm und drang.
The conductor's virtues were also very much in evidence in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scherherazade. He brought out much precision and fine details, and the orchestra played with great virtuosity. Yet I agree with an acquaintance that a little something was lacking. He said the four sections of the score seemed rather unrelated and an overall coherence was lacking. I personally would not dwell on that but did think a little more 陰 to balance out the 陽 would be beneficial. I also think rhythmically the percussive and stormy passages were too four-square, and despite the power too careful by half. I would prefer a little more abandon even at the cost of a little precision. But then this is a rather common failing of the HKPO (and EdW). John Harding was an interesting soloist but his portrait of the protagonist was not necessarily feminine. All in all, a very fine concert.
The HKPO played very well. The horns and brass were splendid. Andrew Simon has been away but for this and the last concert I greatly enjoyed (I always do) the tasteful clarinet playing of John Schertle. This was also one of the very few times that I liked the playing of oboist Michael Wilson (in the Scheherazade).
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra