Wednesday, March 10, 2010

REVIEW: Unfinished Symphony with the Hong Kong Philhamonic Orchestra

My ticket cost me HK$45.00 (after discounts as a season subscriber)! With that price, I can forgive the HKPO. This all-Schubert concert on the 10th of March at the Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall packed a good crowd considering that it is a Wednesday night.

The title of the concert refers to Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, which has only two movements. The title seems to imply that it was "unfinished", while I feel that Schubert has actually "abondoned" it.

For me, the highlight of this all-Schubert concert was the String Quintet in C. I am fairly familiar with this music because this is the music that a good friend of mine insisted should be played in his funeral. Being a good friend, I made sure that I familiarized myself with all the different recordings while waiting for his death! The concert opened with this piece, which I was kind of confident that I will enjoy it as I heard them played the first movement last Friday in a benefit concert for Haiti.

Boy, was I wrong. It could be the venue or where I was seated, but the effect was very different. The String Quintet in C was a roller coaster ride. The first movement seems to be light and not tense enough. While it may not be a less valid proposition, I was not sure that I like it. The second movement was longdrawn and not rhythmically poised. The group was not able to sustain the heavy drama that it made me to expect. It is in the third movement that the group was able to confront the intensity and mixture of emotions that run through the music with their clear and crisp phrasing. The last movement was not held together well with insufficient build-up to communicate the rage and rapture. It was a very interesting experience, still.

The second half of the concert was better played but to be very honest, the music didn't interest me as much. The "adondoned" symphony was an interesting piece of classical music that felt more like in transition into romantic. The final piece was the Marche Militaire. Again, was played better but the music, as much as it is well-known didn't do much for me.

So, which one wins? A piece of music I love, but played unevenly? Or pieces of music that do not interest me as much, but played well? Give me the String Quintet in C anytime. At least it will make me think and will make a better source of arguments and discussions. Having said that, the true winner was me! For HK$45.00, it is the best deal in town hands down!

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At March 30, 2010 at 7:56 PM , Blogger ManSze said...

Just found this blog by chance. Nice to see your post, think that I can share something with you :)
I went to the concert "I Love Schubert 1" in Januaury. And that was not a good performance, I should say. I like Schubert's music very much, and am quite familiar with those performed in that concert. Disappointedly, the pieces were not movingly played, with lack of emotions. Um... the conductor John Harding gave me a feeling that he didn't put much effort on the performance. But I must say, Chen Sa gave an enjoyable performance!
I didn't go to the second concert. But there is a pity - I want the booklet very very much! ><

At March 31, 2010 at 10:01 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Oh! I remember that concert, and yes, I agree with you that Chen Sa saved the evening. :-)


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