07 September, 2010

Concert Review: Vienna Classical String Quartet

Concert Review: Vienna Classical String Quartet

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

Concert Review: 張昊辰 Zhang haocheng Chopin

Concert Review: 張昊辰 Zhang Haocheng All-Chopin

August 28, 2010, 深圳音樂廳
All Chopin

張昊辰為李雲迪師弟,在 2009 Van Cliburn 大賽奪冠:

BBC Magazine Interview
Wikipedia entry

從音樂會不便宜的票價看得出他是當紅人物。票房的票所剩無幾,但是晚的觀衆卻不見得太多 (深圳常見的現象)。沒想到的是,聼衆群跟聼交響樂的不同,更時髦,但素質更差,吵得很,唉!

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.