Review: Great Flute Concertos - Mozart and Nielsen

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 11:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 11:08am

Great Flute Concertos: Mozart and Nielsen
Hong Kong Sinfonietta
City Hall Concert Hall
Reviewed: April 25

Flautist Juliette Hurel is a solid player with vibrant musicality. She had a challenging evening with Mozart's Concerto No 1 in G and Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto. The Mozart piece was graceful but not quite on fire. Her artistry and mellifluous tone were evident in the musical shaping of themes and fine sense of timing in the solo cadenzas.

The memorable adagio melody was cleanly articulated in two-note phrases rather than one long line. The first time we heard it was with the orchestra, where it sounded a bit choppy under the baton of Roberto Forés Veses. The second time it was flute alone and it sounded graceful. By the third time the orchestra had assimilated Hurel's manner and they meshed beautifully.

Hurel jumped over the hurdles with panache in Nielsen's Flute Concerto. It has a mischievous personality, darting from one idea to the next, one moment sweet, the next mocking. The flute opening was striking. Mercurial scales among the woodwinds were dexterously played. The lyrical ending to the first movement was beautiful. A timpani roll under the solo cadenza and a flute and bassoon duet were original touches. Trombone slides near the final cadence indicated a lighter mood.

The centerpiece of this concert was the magnificent Sibelius Symphony No 7 in C, which was powerfully and eloquently led by the Spanish conductor. Sibelius develops his ideas fully and touches a deep spot. Forés Veses conducted with his bare hands (below) and the orchestra responded by digging in with a rich sound.

The overlapping harmonies were like watching transparent panels glide by. The natural harmonics were reinforced with radiant brass. By the end I thought, this is what an orchestra can do.

Alexis Alrich