Macau Orchestra Gala Concert Macau Cultural Centre Grand Auditorium Last night only The newly formed Macau Orchestra held its inauguration concert at Macau Cultural Centre last night under the baton of music director En Shao. The orchestra, the first of its kind in the enclave, is at present a mid-size one with about 40 players. Despite certain weaknesses, it showed good promise with competent overall playing. The concert was also the first in a Beethoven series of concerts. The opening piece was the Cariolan Overture, which was rendered with dramatic contrast. The orchestra's strong upper strings shone with high spirits, but sometimes drove too hard and drowned the winds. But then, the winds by themselves were really too meek, though not lethargic. This problem haunted the orchestra's performance throughout the evening. Shao's conducting threw the next piece, Beethoven's Symphony No 1, again in high dramatic relief. However, he was often inattentive to the moulding of lyrical phrases and the 'punctuations' between large sections of music. Nevertheless, the violins played with verve in the first movement, the ensemble partnership was not entirely ineffective in the delicate slow movement, while the boisterousness of the last two movements were excitingly conveyed. Internationally famous pianist Boris Berezovsky was the soloist in the Emperor Concerto in the second half of the concert. Berezovsky put his phenomenal technique and energy under refined control, and there were many brilliant turns of phrases. He did not intentionally bully the young orchestra: in the many lovely dialogues between soloist and winds, the latter's pleasant tone colour were allowed to be savoured by the audience. But, especially in the festive final movement, Berezovsky often could not help overshadowing the orchestra when a more equal partnership was preferable.