September 22, CH
HK Sinfonietta - Maxim Rysanov - Yip Wing-sie
Prokofiev - Bartok - Chan - Stravinsky
The ambitious program opened with Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, Classical. The opening was rather guarded, but the performance lightened up as it went along. I have said previously, the current iteration of the HK Sinfonietta is much stronger than before, and it was a commendable account, even if the last degree of flourish was missing from time to time.
The second half was not quite on the same level. Chan Hing-yan's 陳慶恩 'Twas the Thawing Wind 一霎好風 for sheng 笙 and orchestra started promisingly. The sheng has a limited range of color and dynamics, but it was effectively played by Loo Sze-wang 盧思泓. The program note by the composer mentioned, among others, Dowland, but the sonic landscape reminded me rather of the works of Part, Vask and Kancheli. Ultimately, the piece is too long for its materials, and the endless repetitions, rather than adding to, ended up detracting from its supposed poetry. The composer mentioned his fixation to the wind, but for a modern (after Debussy) masterpiece of that descriptive inclination one needs to look to Kancheli's Mourned by the Wind, also for viola and orchestra, which I had the fortune of hearing in Carnegie Hall played by the St Petersburg under Yuri Temirkanov, an unforgettable experience.
The concert closed with a cautious account of Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite. Like the Prokofiev, this is a score that is very difficult to bring to life, and the Sinfonietta was only periodically successful.
Aside from the Bartok, the HK Sinfonietta is taking the program on the road of their North American tour.