23 September, 2012

Concert Review: Hong Kong Sinfonietta - Maxim Rysanov

picture-6Concert Review: Hong Kong Sinfonietta - Maxim Rysanov

September 22, CH
HK Sinfonietta - Maxim Rysanov - Yip Wing-sie
Prokofiev - Bartok - Chan - Stravinsky

Let me not mince words: Maxim Rysanov is one of the greatest string players I have heard. From the way he phrases the opening of the Bartok Viola Concerto (completion Tibor Serly) to the Romanian (gypsy) flourish of the Finale Rysanov was a model of an utterly natural musical sense wedded to formidable technical assurance. Under his hands, the Guadagnini viola not only has great tonal allure, but is also superbly transparent, with not a hint of the lugubrious quality one finds in lesser violas, more like a violin with richer tone. The orchestra played with discipline and assurance, and the whole was eminently satisfying.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment