Tuesday, September 13, 2011

REVIEW: Simon Trpceski with HKPO


Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday September 10

“It was like a totally different orchestra!”, my friend gasped when I saw him after the concert. Well, I will not go that far, but indeed the orchestra sounded different and in a good way. Whether it is Lawrence Renes at the helm, or Igor Yuzefovich as the guest (and also announced new) concertmaster, or the fresh combination of old and new members of the orchestra, or a combination of any of the above, what I suspected during the season opening gala was confirmed on Saturday: HKPO sounded wonderfully cohesive and balanced. BRAVO!

As for guest Simon Trpceski, his performance of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 was absolutely better than his No. 2 early this year with HKPO. Credit goes to conductor Renes for not letting the orchestra overwhelm the piano and also Trpceski for pulling his weight. Rach 3 is notorious for its technical and musical demands on a performer. It is definitely one of the most technically challenging piano concerto in the standard classical repertoire and Trpceski glided through it with confidence. Trpceski’s musical ease and fluency was not showy but also not exactly riveting. His Rach 3 tended to be more prim and proper rather than over-heated and heart-on-sleeve, a poetic perspective that the audience seems to adore.

The highlight of the evening for me was Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2. Here, the HKPO was in great form right from the cellos and basses announcing the six-note inspiration in the 1st movement to the signature ending in the 4th movement. Slavic temperament was never far while in general; HKPO provided a performance ample in tonal heft. The strings were agile, refined and thoughtful; and Renes was careful to bring out clarity and texture amidst sustaining the emotional thrust of the piece.

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Trpčeski's Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3
9 & 10-9-2011, Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall

Programme
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 3
RACHMANINOV: Symphony No. 2

Lawrence Renes, conductor
Simon Trpčeski, piano
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

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