Sunday, July 11, 2010

REVIEW: The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival Gala

"The gala opening night concert was well attended but present was of a certain type of audience that would applaud in between movements. It just shows that this type of program is indeed gaining new listeners… cough…"

A significant portion of the above paragraph was edited out by TIME-OUT magazine, and I wonder why. I should really ask...

The audience number was very decent and my suspicion is that it was filled up with tickets given away by sponsors. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with that. Classical music in Hong Kong does need a lot of sponsorships as there are just not enough people who are willing to pay expensive tickets to cover the costs. If only 5% of the tickets given away could generate a purchase to a classical music concert in the future, that would be good enough!

Anyway, here's the review I wrote for the Time-Out Hong Kong online version. The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival had its gala opening night concert on the 7th of July at the City Hall Concert Hall. To read the review, kindly follow the link below.

4 out of 6

City Hall Wednesday July 7

The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival is definitely a welcome addition to the Hong Kong classical music scene, and it opened with a well-attended gala opening night.

The evening opened with Haydn’s String Quartet, Op.64, No. 5 (the “Lark”), performed by the New Helsinki Quartet. The playing was mechanically excellent. Despite generally brisk tempi, the piece sounded heavy and standard.

The tide turned immediately with Schumann’s Adagio & Allegro in A flat Major Op.70, performed by Trey Lee (cello) and Peter Jablonski (piano). Originally written for horn and piano, the intimate and incisive performance by Lee and Jablonski has convinced me that bowing is definitely better than blowing.

Ending the first half of the concert was Glinka’s Grand Sextet in E flat Major, a relatively less heard and recorded piece. While the music may not be recognisably Glinka, it is a fresh and melodious work by a talented young composer who was just simply enjoying himself. It received a performance that mirrored sincere enjoyment from the musicians. Colleen Lee, on the piano, provided a tongue-in-cheek and solid base for the rest to build on.

After the interval came Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat Major, Op. 20. The dazzling performance of the Octet is exactly why I go to live concerts. The music-making was very 'of-the-moment' and the sense of risk was spontaneously perceptible.

The exquisitely crafted contrasts of the first and second subjects of the first movement were explored and mined by the double quartet with great care and distinction, while textures were clear throughout.

Dan Zhu (violin), playing some of the most exposed and beautiful lines, performed with power and poetry. Together with him were Grzegorz Kotow (violin), Andrew Ling (viola), Trey lee (cello) and the New Helsinki Quartet, who all played excellently and their virtuosity was never self-absorbed.

Satoshi Kyo

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