06 May, 2010

Concert Review: Orpheus with Ryu Goto

Concert Review: Orpheus with Ryu Goto

May 4, 2010
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Ryu Goto, Violin

I was quite happy to discover this under-publicized concert by the famed conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, sponsored by Korean Daiwo Bank. The hall was about 80% full, with many Asian faces that greeted Violinist Ryu Goto's entry with screaming passion fit for pop-stars.

Ryu Goto is familiar to HK concertgoers for his stunning rendition of Paganini No. 1 with the HK Sinfonietta, one of the most perfect concerti I have ever heard live (reviewed in this Blog previously). Although I was very eager to hear him in the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, I have to admit a certain disappointment created by overly high expectation. While he played beautifully, with an exquisite tone, I had one major reservation not mentioned in the NYT review. Volume. His tone was just a shade small for this large hall; bigger than Cho-Ang Lin's, but just enough, lacking the power of some other (maybe lesser) soloists. The perfect solo Paganini encore fared much better and brought back memory of his previous performance in HK. This points up one thing: Paganini is easier to project than many romantic pieces.

I have not been that impressed by Orpheus on record, and so I was surprised by the big sound Orpheus made in this romantic repertoire. The small string body played wonderfully. One did not much miss the big sweep in the Bruch, and gained insight into the part-writing. Again, the strings shone in the Beethoven Symphony No. 2, but I found the woodwinds and brass to be only good and not up to the standard of the strings. Their solo's were relatively bland and their blend was not sophisticated compared to their counterparts in the better orchestras. It follows that I found the opener, Stravinsky's wind and brass-dominated Octet tidy but without flair, which the music sorely needs.

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