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.