Sunday, March 18, 2012

REVIEW: Marc-André Hamelin with HKPO

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday March 10

At first glance, it looked like an interesting programme of familiar and less familiar music. In actuality, it was less interesting and attractive. Nevertheless, it was still a great evening of music, or at least first-rate piano playing from the great Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin.

Ravel’s La Valse opened the evening and conductor Lu Shao-Chia brought out some imbalance sound at the start; but like the effect in La Valse, the mists also cleared up almost like a series of gauze curtain were raised. Half way through, the orchestra really came together with depth of tone and breath of fun.

The moment came and Franck’s Symphonic Variations was performed. Given the piece has been described as “one of Franck’s tightest and most finished works” and “a superb blending of piano and orchestra”, what was heard was neither tight nor blended superbly. On their own, Hamelin was faultless and the orchestra was fine; but together, this fine example of use of cyclic unity became tedious at one point.

The Strauss’ Burleske that followed after the interval was better and the orchestral part was shaped with youthful character. On top of his brilliant technique, Hamelin’s brilliance and vibrancy was awe-inspiring. BUT, Burleske is still Burleske, it was a peculiar muddle of immaturity with glimpses of later genius.

Now, Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra was a pleasant surprise, it was punchy and at the same time passionate. Lu splendidly control and convey the crux of the different ideas and textures while sustaining the overall form that could easily droop and become shapeless.

Hamelin, The Piano Wizard
9&10-3-2012 Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall

RAVEL: La Valse
FRANCK: Symphonic Variations
R STRAUSS: Burleske
LUTOSLAWSKI: Concerto for Orchestra

Lu Shao-Chia

Marc-André Hamelin

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