SFSO, Lynn Harrell and Michael Tilson Thomas
10 Feb 2006, HKCC
I watched the second night. I sat in a seat where the sound was blurry but where I could watch MTT clearly, that was under the organ.
I was late for the opening piece by Ives. It was my first time hearing Schumann’s cello concerto live. It seemed to me a lost in direction, for I couldn’t hear the cello solo clearly from my seat. It was really a pity. Harrell gave an encore of Schumann’s Traumerei from Kinderszenen which was pretty charming.
Brahms 2 was marvellous, with warm and full sound. MTT could bring out every detail in it. His conducting gesture was clear and stylized. However, the overall impression of the expression was a bit artificial, and indeed lacked something. Encore was Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 and “Colorful Cloud Chasing Moon” (They turned out to chase the moon for all three nights, that’s really “tui”). In overall, the concert was not as sparkling as I expected.
HKPO, Edo de Waart
16 Feb 2006
I was sitting at the balcony, in the middle left, nearer to the violins. This time the acoustics of the seat was surprisingly good. Not weak or blurry at all.
In the first movement of M2, it was really a bit mechanical, cautious and slippery too. In the opening theme played by cello, there’s an ascending melodic minor scale in which the first note is always played as a separate note… which I found quite unnatural. (I had get used to Otto Klemperor’s M2).
The first movement lacked the energy and passions I expected. At first
I was quite disappointed, but the middle movements were played vividly
and fluently that put the things together with life. I began to enjoy
it. Alto solo in the fourth movement didn’t give me a sublime
feeling that this movement should possess. However, the last movement was
dramatic and exciting enough to evoke me to shout bravo at the end!
The tempo changes made you think that it was the “right”
tempo. This was indeed the first time that assured me backstage brass
and percussion is really effective! (Sometimes you just couldn’t hear it
or sometimes it was just too loud that there wasn’t any difference between
frontstage and backstage).
I felt that choir wasn’t in their best shape too. However, the overall impression of the performance was great. If we compared to M1 or M6 they have played before, this year’s M2 and M4 were indeed a big step forward! Even when we compared it to SFSO’s concert, HKPO is not far from it. (But of course, this is Mahler, which is much easier to
Stefan Vladar (piano) and Ensemble Wien-Berlin
21 Feb 2006
I was totally dreaming when Beethoven’s quintet, op. 16 was played. An early work with style similar to Haydn, the piece sounded too comfortable to my ears. Schubert’s Introduction and Variation on Trockne Blumen was amazing. I had never heard a so technically demanding flute piece written by Schubert. The flautist, Wolfgang Schuhlz played it with ease. Behind the virtuosic display, the music is in fact melancholic.
Schubert, often being considered as a “song-writer”, indeed wrote serious music with depth. Though some of his piece suffered from “too many repeats”, I am touched by the sincerity of his Impromptus and Fantasy. And the more I’ve heard, I found that Mahler has indeed much influenced by Mozart and Schubert (perhaps more than Beethoven and Wagner?) In Mahler’s early Lieder, we can hear lyrical-Schubert-style melody, and Schubert’s way of mixing major and minor. And the way that Mahler often use appoggiatura and feminine cadence is similar to what Mozart did. Maybe you would think that is a far-fetched comparison, but that’s what I think.
And I left early to go home to hurry for some work. But when I returned home, I was too tired and wasted time on web…