Monday, October 25, 2010

REVIEW: Yang Tianwa with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

The title of the concert was TIANWA, THE RISING STAR… indeed with the emphasis on RISING.

The City Hall Concert Hall was fairly packed on October 23. I was almost late as I thought that the concert was in the Cultural Centre. I was just in time to listen to Janacek’s Zarlivost (Jealousy). The work itself is a forceful piece and the playing by HKPO, led by Perry So, did nothing to curb it.

What followed was Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 53 and the much-awaited Yang Tianwa. The moment the orchestra played, what stood out was that the forcefulness in the 1st piece continues. It was still okay until Yang started playing, it became apparent that the balance was off and the orchestra was too heavy.

As for Yang, it was like watching a flower bloom. It was at first all standard technically-superb playing, with little personality. Suddenly, in the middle of the 1st movement, the personality crept in and by the 2nd movement, I was so absorbed with her playing that the orchestra’s heavy playing was more irritating than enjoyable. Yang’s grasp of the emotional depth of the piece was as stunning as the range of color she brought to it.

Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D, op. 43 was pretty much the same as the other two pieces… forceful…but then I didn’t mind it too much for this piece. There were some very good moments, especially in 3rd and 4th movement when that nationalistic gusto was called for.

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