Sunday, April 10, 2011

REVIEW: Vadim Repin with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday April 2

What does one expect from a concert featuring Vadim Repin? Yes, THE Vadim Repin that had THE Yehudi Menuhin proclaimed that Repin is simply the best and most perfect violinist that Menuhin has ever had the chance to hear!

It was the question I indeed asked myself with the daunting task to write a review at the back of my mind. This was not the first time I heard him play, but my reaction to his playing has not changed; and that is of awe.

For this HKPO concert, Repin played Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, one of the most important works in the violin repertoire; and not to mention that its technical demands on the soloist are terrifying. As always, Repin offered both splendor and provocative musicality in equal dosage. Absolutely nothing was too difficult; not even the multiple stopping or rapid scale passages.

The Adagio was for me the highlight. Michael Wilson’s oboe solo provided a ravishing duet with Repin. HKPO seemed to respond very well to Repin, providing a very complementary performance led by Maestro Rossen Milanov. The audience was more than pleased with Repin’s performance, while Repin graciously provided an encore.

The second half started with Zhou Tian’s The Palace of Nine Perfections, an HKPO premiere. Composed in 2004, the piece draws its title from a painting by Yuan Jiang. The piece was more like an aural response to the beauty and details of the painting. It was almost like a musical interaction as one’s eyes travel along the massive painting (207 x 563cm); and that kept the listeners engaged. It was familiarity in unpredictability.

Dvorak’s Nature, Life and Love followed. The three pieces, though were published with three different opus numbers after Dvorak doubted their linkage, actually worked quite well together. The outer more atmospheric pieces frame the scintillating centerpiece beautifully. Milanov unfolded In Nature’s Realm with care and provided a clean and attractive performance. The Carnival was a burst of exuberance that worked well with the other two. I have a feeling that if it was performed alone, I might actually find it overdone. In Othello, the start was touching, while followed by effective rendition by Milanov that was gripping with high drama.


Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77
- Allegro non troppo
- Adagio
- Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace

Zhou Tian: The Palace of Nine Perfections

Dvorak: Nature, Life and Love
- In Nature's Realm
- Carnival
- Othello

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