Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra with Olli Mustonen, conducted by Carlo Rizzi Hong Kong Cultural Centre Italian conductor Carlo Rizzi last night directed the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of Mozart and Mahler at the Cultural Centre. The programme opened with Mozart's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C minor, K. 491, played by Olli Mustonen. This soloist's style is an acquired taste. Personally, I found his over-exaggerated arm movements and the resulting percussive, abrasive tone disconcerting. Even the lyrical theme of the larghetto was subjected to an unusual semi-staccato attack. The Rachmaninov-inspired cadenza of the first movement and the aggressive playing of some of the variations in the third seemed out of character with the classical style. To cap it all, there was some dodgy woodwind intonation. Fortunately, the performance of Mahler's emotionally charged Symphony No 6 was in a superior class. Despite the large number of Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra members, it is rare to hear them all working at one time. But, under Rizzi's clear direction, the orchestra gave a convincing performance. The march melody of the opening movement could have been fiercer, but the ominous 'fate' motive was clearly enunciated by the two kettledrums. Indeed, the percussion players, racing around between a herd of cow bells, xylophones and other interesting objects, were put to the test throughout this work. The petering into an abyss at the end of the scherzo was well controlled. Some very expressive playing - particularly by the first horn - provided some exquisite moments in the andante. The symphony finale was particularly striking; its long, tortuous structure marked by contrasting moods and punctuated by the 'fate' motive. Carlo Rizzi and the Hong Kong Philharmonic will perform the same programme tonight. Next Friday and Saturday they will perform a concert of Dvorak and Brahms.