It's never a dull day at the concert with McDull
Sentimental stories about the cartoon piglet and his family go well with the Sinfonietta's tunes
McDull: Sentimental Little Stories
City Hall Concert Hall
Live music, storytelling and animation are much-loved features of Hong Kong Sinfonietta's McDull project.
But to tell six stories through 15 segments of orchestral music within 75 minutes is a daunting task, and the laughter elicited from the 1,400 audience members, young and old, was a testament to the mastermind behind the production.
Setting the fairy tale mood was the fitting opening of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream overture.
The young audience did not tempt the Sinfonietta into simplifying things.
With all section principals present, the mid-sized ensemble performed at its best under the baton of music director Yip Wing-sie.
The first laugh went to the orchestra's players, who preceded the cartoon piglet on the big screen behind them.
The players were shown dashing around town on a double-decker bus, with Boccherini's charming minuet in the background.
The clever use of music in storytelling was evident throughout. The first tale, Cry Pig, featured In the Hall of the Mountain King from Grieg's Peer Gynt, as villagers were shown being fooled into thinking a wolf was attacking a shepherd.
The theme was repeated as the villagers were fooled again, until only McDull still ran to the rescue. "I know it's a lie. But what if it wasn't? You'd be eaten. After all, I'd like to keep you company," the pig told the shepherd, who felt ashamed and stopped lying after that.
Elgar's heart-warming Salut d'Amour emerged as the pair sat on a branch, enjoying the sunset.
The longest story in the concert focused on the theme of sharing, featuring the McDull family on a yellow bus. The story, narrated by Yip, told of the piglet's father buying a private bus.
Although the bus was not meant for public use, passengers somehow boarded the bus. Frustrated, McDull's father led the family to what he thought was a restaurant.
At first angry at being served only instant noodles, the father later felt ashamed after he found out they were in fact dining in someone else's home.
The father then drove home happily despite taking another load of passengers on the bus.
The bumpy ride home on the bus was well illustrated by Dvorak's Slavonic Dance in G minor, and Saint-Saens' The Swan highlighted the amicable mood of those in the vehicle.