Tuesday, December 6, 2011

REVIEW: Simone Lamsma with HKPO

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday November 26

It’s a week since I saw Jaap van Zweden conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and I still can’t get myself to write something about it. Van Zweden (in pole position for the role of Edi de Waart) conducted two concerts so far and I recommended both in a feature for Time-Out (click here). I only saw the second concert, wherein he conducted Britten’s Violin Concert with Simone Lamsma playing the violin and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. And now that I saw another HKPO two days ago and will be seeing another performance this Wednesday, I feel the need to push myself to write this or else I will end up having a bottleneck.

I have a very mixed feeling about the performance. The combination of Britten and Prokofiev was not exactly interesting. Lamsma was not bad, but was not exciting also… in fact, there a bit of pitch problem. As for van Zweden, he was very interesting to watch but bordering distracting.

Don’t get me wrong, Lamsma’s playing was in most times technically solid. Her sense of spontaneity, use of rubato was far from sounding pretentious. In fact, it seems to show a fascinating perspective of the music. However, it failed to show enough insight to create cohesion and intensity. Van Zweden and the HKPO matched her in this lack of intensity. Unfortunately, by the time the Passacaglia was impressively played, my being was too numbed to turn around. Mentally, I know that it was beautifully done, but emotionally, I can’t be affected.

Van Zweden gave a positively forceful rendition of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5… well, maybe a bit too forceful that it wrung out any trace of humor. The sarcastic edginess of the scherzo and finale was palpable, full of underlying menace and bite. It was a performance of no simple glorification of mankind, but of people who have seen the worst of people and came out alive.


Jaap van Zweden - The Essential II
25&26-11-2011 Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall

BRITTEN: Violin Concerto
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No.5

Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Simone Lamsma, violin

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