Skip to main content

Edo de Waart conducts Debussy, Ravel and Gerswin, Hong Kong

After the pagan festivities of Christmas and New Year (can somebody stop shopping malls and lifts from playing bad interpretations of and out of tune Christmas favourites?), and just before the Hong Kong Arts Festival, it was a delight to attend a concert with a Franco-American early 20th century flavour.


The concert began with Debussy's La Mer. Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra captured most of the nuances in this evocative work. The best was in the scherzo-like second movement "Jeux de vagues" - with the strings and winds rippling about. A young pianist Kirill Gerstein played the Ravel piano concerto in G with much eloquence and fluidity, accompanied by HKPO's warm sound - bringing the first half of the concert to a nice close. Gerswin's Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris formed the second half of the concert. For such a well known work, it was surprising to hear the more than occasional smudges from Gerstein and wayward tempo from the orchestra in the Rhapsody. The lead clarinet Andrew Simon, though, clearly enjoyed his solo at the beginning. An American in Paris was well played - with good balance from the orchestra and a judicious portrayal of this picturesque piece. The rubati were, at times, awkward owing to the sometimes difficult syncopated rhythms but otherwise it was an enjoyable performance.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz at BBC Proms

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique started this BBC Proms concert with Le corsaire - it was tightly played and a sonorous sound. I wonder whether this was due to the whole orchestra standing up while playing had anything to do with it. It sounded good.

Joyce DiDonato first sang La mort de Cléopâtre - her performance was mesmerising due to her dramatic delivery of text and the wonderful lines. Sir John was ever sensitive to the flow of the music. Dido’s death scene was short, yet no less powerful with DiDonata's breadth of emotions. Some may moan about her over dramatic delivery at the expense of pitch accuracy - but that's just nitpicking.

The second half of the concert was Harold in Italy - a whimsical and eclectic piece that's interesting to listen to - but I wonder whether this should have been played in the 1st half of the concert.

Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.