HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Reviewed: October 6
The many young violin students in the full house were rewarded by a world-class performance by Pinchas Zukerman with Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta on Sunday.
The opening piece, performed by the Canadian orchestra, was Alexina Louie's Bringing the Tiger Down from the Mountain II. It began with eerie percussion and strings in descending lines like clouds of mist. The cello solo had an intensity enhanced by Chinese-style wide vibrato and glissandi, commandingly performed by cellist Amanda Forsyth. However, without clear anchors of tonality, rhythm or harmony, it was a study in abstract passion.
In Mozart's Violin Concerto No 3 with the sinfonietta, Zukerman brought out the "play" in playing music, dancing from delicate arpeggios to lyrical lines with ease. He played much of the piece with his back to the orchestra, which caused a bit of lag but without detracting from the overall musical effect. The solo cadenzas were a highlight.
The Rondeau Allegro was a carpet bag of melodies, ranging from urbane minuet to a Rossini-like tune to village stompers.
As a soloist, Zukerman shapes the sound like a fascinating raconteur. He transmitted this quality to two orchestras combined in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 5, which was a triumph.
At first I wondered how it would all gel. In the first movement, Andante - Allegro con anima, Tchaikovsky goes from serious Beethoven-esque themes to rustic bassoon accompaniments. The clarinet solo in the beginning was played beautifully but perhaps something was missing in the balance. In the Finale: Andante maestoso - Allegro vivace Tchaikovsky's full dramatic power is unleashed. A dramatic slowdown before the ending allows for a long build-up, including a fanciful countermelody, and a magical change from fast oompah to the Beethoven-esque triplet theme. The lucky audience sprang up in a standing ovation at the end of the performance.