13 July, 2018

Two Wonderful Concerts in Shenzhen

These two wonderful concerts in Shenzhen's acoustically magnificent hall both unfortunately have low attendance. The artists deserve better!

Image result for repin korobeinikovpic from the Strad.

July 4th, 2018, Shenzhen Concert Hall
Vadim Repin - Andrei Korobeinikov
Debussy - Prokofiev - Grieg - Tchaikovsky

Last time I heard a Vadim Repin recital, he was partnered by Nikolai Lugansky (my Blog entry here). This concert instead featured his other regular partner, Andrei Korobeinikov, and I reckon it is an even better match.

The same Debussy Sonata received a very refined reading. Though very fine, again, like with Kyung Wha Chung, I wished for a little more abandon. The same can be said about the Prokofiev Sonata No. 2, which was meticulously played and styled, ironically not so "Russian" in feeling. In both, Korobeinikov proved an equal partner in every sense.

After Kyung Wha Chung's performance of the Grieg Sonata No. 3 in 2013 (entry here), I thought I would never hear its equal, but that happened here! The partnership raised the temperature in the second half and gave a disciplined but impassioned reading. This immensely satisfying reading of the masterpiece was bookended by equally meritorious readings of Prokofiev's Five Melodies and two miniatures, Tchaikovsky's Meditation and Valse Scherzo.

The substantial encore is familiar, likely by Sarasate, but I am not sure what it was. Virtuosity in full flight!

July 13th, 2018, Shenzhen Concert Hall
Shenzhen SO - Yang Tianwa - Peter Wilson
Lalo - Prokofiev

The current standard of violin playing is so high that there are many ladies with seemingly everything, technique, looks, you name it. It is almost like a beauty contest!

Yet, despite the parade of Beauty Queens, Yang Tianwa, rather plain and even somewhat awkward, has become my favorite, and I make sure to hear her whenever possible. To me, this lady is not only the best Chinese violinist (yes, even better than Ning Feng), but simply one of the top violinists, male or female, in the world! For more info on her, read an old entry of mine.

Here she played Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole, not so often heard in concert these days, which she has recorded for Naxos. Yang's greatest strength, her fluid phrasing that so captivated me in Sarasate, is in plentiful evidence here. Small moments and transitional passages were just natural. On the other hand, she also has the penchant to underplay the big themes (she is not one to play to the galleries). Together with her meticulous playing (one hears more notes than usual), this reading came across as jewel-like rather than a virtuosic vehicle. In some ways, Peter Wilson's conducting, somewhat brash and four square, was not fully complimentary, though there were fine moments, like the Wagnerian brass of the andante. An inward looking and meticulously dissected Bach encore was calming.

In Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Wilson conducted with minimal fuss and efficiency, but the score could have used a little more tone-painting and shaping. The orchestra was big boned, though on this night the winds were a little raucous and the brass somewhat wobbly. No matter, this is a masterpiece that is impossible to ruin!