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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.


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