Yundi Li's Ravel
Yundi Li's Ravel
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Reviewed: Sept 5
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's new season began with Yundi Li as the soloist for Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, in which the opening half-hearted whip crack presaged a first movement that was so well-behaved it was almost strait-laced: no louche showcase of jazzy orchestral colour or frothy piano textures here to heighten the central section's magical contrast.
Li treated his substantial solo in the slow movement with such scant shading it came close to being four-square; and he might have retreated further during the cor anglais solo tailored to take the limelight. The finale's frivolity was dextrous but fell short of being incisive.
Berlioz's pictorial, five-movement Symphonie Fantastique opened with conductor Edo de Waart turning every stone in Daydreams and Passions with a wonderful grasp of detail, painting impressions that were excellently balanced and fluidly developed into the climax. The dark undercurrents of the slow movement (In the Fields) similarly enjoyed a fully inflected eloquence from the strings.
Elsewhere, things didn't gel so happily. A Ball waltzed with a heavy heart while March to the Scaffold began so lethargically one wondered if a surprise lay ahead. Not so. The brakes remained on the spookiness of Dream of a Witches' Sabbath, where the most chilling moments came with Michael Campbell's vibrant clarinet contributions.
Messiaen's Les Offrandes Oubliees, written when he was only 22, opened the programme. We heard a thumbprint of his later works, but little of their cosmic boom and serene pathos.