30 January, 2010

Concert Review: HKPO-Trcepski-Lu Jia

Concert Review: HKPO/Trcepski/Lu Jia

Jan 29, 2010, CCCH
HKPO/Simon Trpceski/Lu Jia
All Rachmaninov

Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski is a star on the international circuit, and it's good that he continues his traversal of Rachmaninov here. The partnership with Lu Jia proved a match made in heaven.

The Piano Concerto No.1 was actually substantially revised after Rachmaninov's hugely successful N0. 2 and 3 (more on its history here). It's an unjustly neglected work on the concert platform. Ever since I heard the Richter recording on a cheap Monitor LP over 20 years ago I have loved it, and over the years it has eclipsed the No. 2 (but not quite the No. 3) in my esteem due to its concision. Even fresh off 2 library CDs of this concerto (Zimerman and Berezovsky; see previous post) I still found this live performance refreshing. This not so "romantic" piece quite matched Trpceski, who has all all the chops needed for anything but who prefers to hone his skills on producing chiselled tones and a sense of spontaneity. The same can be said of the Variations on a Theme by Paganini, which Trpceski played sometimes with a little injection of almost jazzy feeling. This performance far outstripped the lackluster one by Dejan Lazic and Atherton 2 years ago.

Important to the success of the 2 concerti were the contributions by orchestra and conductor. Lu Jia again proved himself a great accompanist. There was a good sense of give-and-take, enjoyment and dialogue. Except for somewhat subdued winds, orchestral playing was smart and snappy.

The wonderful program opened with the dark Prince Rotislav, a piece I have loved ever since I first heard it on a library CD. The hushed opening and soft brass playing was quite magical; so were the successive storms. Closing the program was the lesser but rousing Caprice Bohemian. In both tone poems Lu Jia showed considerable skills in moulding and color-painting.

The concert was broadcasted live by RTHK4, and the program shall be repeated on Feb 3rd (wed), at 2 pm.


  1. pretty spot on review: yes, there was a very jazzy feel to the Theme/Paganini.
    Do you happen to know what were the encores played by Trcepski? They were just beautiful. And they demonstrated that sometimes the simple stuff can be the most impressive/moving.

  2. On Friday, I think the first encore was Rachmaninov, after which Trpceski said something about the Chopin year and played a little Chopin; which piece I am not certain.