Monday, December 17, 2012

REVIEW: Christianne Stotjin with HKPhil

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday December 8

So, this is another late review. Officially, I am in a panic state right now… work seems to be endless, no matter what I do, there just not enough hours in a day. Needless to say that it is Christmas time and there are endless invitations to entertain. Yes, I would rather attend a party than to write in my blog. It just feels more appropriate given that these people that I know took the effort to invite me while writing a review for “possible” readers is a bit of a vanity project.

In any case, I saw this concert more than a week ago. While it was entitled Jaap’s Mendelssohn, my real reason for attending this concert was Christianne Stotjin. I have always enjoyed Stotjin’s recordings (Tchaikovsky Romances in particular) and was most eager to hear her interpretation of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, a song cycle beautifully recorded by no less than her teacher Dame Janet Baker!

Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) opened the evening. There’s nothing pedestrian in this treatment from Maestro van Zweden. His Hebrides beautifully captured the heaving and surging wave right at the start and elucidated all the contrasting moods of this, in my opinion, the best of Mendelssohn’s overtures.

Elgar’s Sea Pictures followed. The first thing that came to my mind upon hearing Stotjin was, “Gosh, her interpretation is very different from Baker’s.” While Baker’s was a calm and almost bucolic account, Stotjin’s throbbed with contained intense emotions. Most noticeable was Stotjin’s dark mezzo that has that fetching quality. She has a way of unfolding a story that sounded natural and full of personality. The account may not be intimate, but there was no shortage of warmth. If I really need to find fault, I would say that the tone in Stotjin’s different ranges varied and I suspect that it was not mere vocal colouring.

The title piece - Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 Scottish - came after the interval. Peculiarly, my recollection of the performance was that my mind somehow kept going back to the Sea Pictures. Having said that, on what I had consciously and attentively heard that night, van Zweden with the Hong Kong Philharmonic gave a romantic yet precise reading, but still allowed solo instruments enough freedom to soften some of the harder edges.

Jaap’s Mendelssohn
7&8-12-2012 Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall

MENDELSSOHN The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)
ELGAR Sea Pictures
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No.3 Scottish

Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano

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