Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra season finale Conductor: Edo de Waart Soloist: Jacques Zoon (flute) Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Reviewed: July 8 The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's final programme of the season was a polarised affair. Mozart filled the first half, opening with his overture to The Marriage of Figaro, and the Flute Concerto in G major substituted for the scheduled Clarinet Concerto. The work is a challenge in that its many rather banal stretches could have come from the pens of Mozart's lesser contemporaries, reflecting his lack of interest in the instrument. Soloist Jacques Zoon hastened Mozart's tempi, but this didn't pay off, resulting only in passages of wobbly ensemble and a disappointing absence of classical atmosphere. Mahler's Symphony No5 filled the second half, and conductor Edo de Waart's architectural view of this was masterful. His exemplary pacing drew musical logic from the five movements, individually and as a whole. The temptation to indulge at every romantic turn was mercifully ignored, resulting in a cohesive musical journey rather than a series of bus stops. I must report the undernourished bass line in the lush fourth movement; the over-prominence of the lower brass at the moments when they had little to say; the cymbals occasionally hiding their decibels under a bushel; and a fleeting lack of persuasion when the texture thinned to precarious levels. It's a pleasure, however, to acknowledge the overall intelligence and integrity of this reading. The orchestra excelled throughout, responding with commitment to the colour and complexity of Mahler's score and de Waart's detailed insight. The final movement produced no cheap, concluding fireworks, but a wonderfully plotted, powerful and incandescent climax. As the curtain fell on the evening, expectations were raised for the orchestra's 2005-06 season.