Thursday, January 31, 2013

REVIEW: Classic Broadway with HKPhil

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday January 26

In the years that the HKPhil (or rather HKPO) has been doing Broadway concerts, this has to be the best. The music of Richard Rodgers (mostly) and Jerome Kern seat beautifully with the orchestra. In the past when the program includes music from more modern musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Hairspray and Spamalot, there was just not enough spunk and pluck to the whole feel. I also like the fact that it kept the performers to three people. For some reason, the moment there are four performers on stage, there are just too many entrances and exits, the balancing of microphones gets peculiarly off and not to mention the interactions between the singers.

The evening was about the great musical partnership known as Rodgers and Hammerstein. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were some of the most influential, innovative and successful professionals during their time. But even before they created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, they both had collaborated with other artists. Lorenz Hart has written lyrics to the music of Rodgers for more than two decades, while Jerome Kern has set the lyrics of Hammerstein in music before.

To bring their song into life, HKPhil has invited Lisa Vroman, Gary Mauer and William Michals. All did a wonderful job. Some of the parts I really like were how Lisa Vroman introduced the song Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music. The spiel was just right without sounding studied or unprepared. It came across most natural and endearing. Her rendition of the song was beautiful with just the right amount of characterization. Edelweiss, also from The Sound of Music followed and sang by William Michals. He encouraged the audience to join in and amazingly, the audience actually sounded quite good. Speaking of William Michals, I do particularly like his voice, he sang with ease be it the low notes in Ol’ Man River (Showboat) or the high notes at the end of Some Enchanted Evening (South Pacific). His Soliloquy was another highlight. Unfortunately, his CD (sold at the lobby) didn’t really bring out his artistry due to poor recording. Gary Mauer’s Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ (Oklahoma!) showed off his lyric tenor voice handsomely. Accompanying all these wonderful singing was the artistry of HKPhil led by Gerald Steichen.

Classic Broadway
25&26-1-2013 Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: The King and I Overture
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: It’s a Grand Night for Singing (State Fair)
KERN/HAMMERSTEIN: All the Things You Are (Very Warm for May)
KERN/HAMMERSTEIN: Make Believe (Showboat)
KERN/HAMMERSTEIN: Ol’ Man River (Showboat)
RODGERS/HART: Falling In Love With Love (The Boys From Syracuse)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Lonely Goatherd (The Sound of Music) RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Edelweiss (The Sound of Music)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Carousel Waltz (Carousel)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: A Wonderful Guy (South Pacific)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Some Enchanted Evening (South Pacific) RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Shall We Dance (The King and I)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (Oklahoma!)
RODGERS/HAMMERSTEIN: People Will Say We’re In Love (Oklahoma!)

Gerald Steichen, conductor
Lisa Vroman, soprano
Gary Mauer, tenor
William Michals, baritone
Hong Kong Philharmonic

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