The Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra Sha Tin Town Hall March 14 Concert reviewers seldom enjoy the advantage of attending a performance of a work in the company of its composer, so I may as well make use of the advantage. Being performed outside England for the first time, Richard Harvey's Concerto Antico for guitar and small orchestra provided the highlight of a programme of music on the theme of Romantic Europe, played by the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra with guest soloist and guitarist Josef Fung. Harvey's opinion was that soloist and orchestra had done a fine job with the work, which in view of the fact that it was originally composed for John Williams, who recorded it with the London Symphony Orchestra, is no small praise. The concerto is an exacting work for both orchestra and soloist. It initially sounded tentative, but the players gained enormously in assurance as the piece progressed, possibly slipping slightly into overconfidence towards the end. A certain disconnection between orchestra and soloist was apparent at the conclusion of the fifth movement, but, as Harvey noted philosophically, so far as most of the audience was concerned that probably just made the piece sound more modern. Certainly Fung played Concerto Antico more expressively than earlier on Rodrigo's wonderful but chronically overexposed Concerto de Aranjuez, which he can probably play in his sleep by now. The other selections were popular favourites - Leoncavallo's Intermezzo from I Pagliacci, Debussy's Petite Suite, Verdi's Prelude to Act One of La Traviata and the Intermezzo from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana - all of which were played with infectious enthusiasm and to a high technical standard. Conductor Henry Shek, making a flamboyant debut with the orchestra, seemed to draw the best from the players, who were called back for a well-deserved encore with a reprise of the Mascagni.