Friday, May 25, 2012

SATOSHI on Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra 2012-2013 season

I finally got my HKPO brochure and it has the huge overflowing face of Jaap Van Zweden. As if that was not enough, the title of the brochure is "JAAP!" (pronounce as Yaap). Obviously, HKPO is trying to make a big deal of the new Music Director... well, we'll see... Overall, the programming was fine, but nothing revolutionary. Let say that it is more or less business as usual. In any case, of the 30 programmes, here's my top seven (7) in the order of performance date:

  1. Anne-Sophie Mutter (11/16&17): For a dose of star-power, very few come as potent as German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter in her 36th year on stage. To showcase the artist’s musical versatility and incredible musicianship, she will be performing two full-length works. Together with Dvorak’s Violin Concerto is the critically-acclaimed Time Machine for violin and orchestra of Sebastian Currier, a work she premiered last year with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and was described as “riveting”. Are we surprised?
  2. Jaap’s Mendelssohn (12/7&8): The two Mendelssohn works (The Hebrides and Symphony No. 3) inspired by Scotland and to be conducted by the new Music Director Jaap Van Zweden are good enough reason to go to this concert; but the piece that I will be eagerly looking forward to will be Elgar’s Sea Picture with the Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn. The Sea Picture is a song cycle that displays the dichotomy of fear and fascination; and it will be a thrill to hear Stotijn’s famous full-blooded mezzo course through it.
  3. The King of Instrument (1/11&12): Every now and then, we hear it, but in this concert, it will take the centre stage. The Cultural Centre Concert Hall organ is the largest mechanically operated instrument of its kind in Southeast Asia. To showcase it, the HKPO has programmed two of the most performed organ orchestral works (Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3) of the post-Baroque period. And to bring out the magic from the 4 manuals, 93 stops and 8,000 pipes, we will have the world-acclaimed organist Simon Preston with conductor David Atherton.
  4. Antarctic Journey (1/18&19): This concert is about exploration and discovery. Everything about the evening is an attempt to bring the less familiar to the Hong Kong audience. Be it the composers (Bax, Rautavaara, Vaughan Williams), the theme (Antarctic and Arctic) and even the format (performance with images and narration). And to lead the audience through this wonderful adventure is the more familiar and trusted former HKPO Music Director David Atherton.
  5. Ashkenazy Conducts (5/24&25): Indeed a musical giant of our time, Ashkenazy never fails to amaze his audience with his musicality whether he is playing the piano or conducting. For this HKPO concert, he will be conducting Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony and Strauss’ Don Juan, two Romantic works that juxtapose Finland’s indigenous beauty and the wild romance of a libertine. I also can’t wait to hear his take of Strauss’ Four Last Songs especially with the famous Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling performing.
  6. Liszt Piano Concertos (6/7&8): Whether it was his HKPO debut last year or his conducting of this year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Wigglesworth has definitely made a mark in Hong Kong. Joining him for the Liszt Piano Concertos (1 and 2) is no other than the British virtuoso Stephen Hough famed for his distinct style that transcends trends.
  7. Karadaglic’s Rodrigo (6/28&29): As the title suggests, this concert is about Milos Karadaglic tackling one of the most famous guitar concertos. Recipient of the 2011 Gramophone Award for Young Artist of the Year, Montenegrin Karadaglic is currently one of the hottest classical guitarists. Joining him is Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro, currently the Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, succeeding Kent Nagano and becoming only the third music director in the 40-year history of the orchestra.
If you want to find out more about HKPO's 2012-2013 season, check-out HKPO's website. WHAT'S YOUR TOP 7?

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