Takezawa meets Lazarev Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra Cultural Centre Concert Hall Reviewed: November 25 Long-time concertgoers should be familiar with Japanese violinist Kyoko Takezawa, whose guest performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic have left good memories. Unfortunately, her appearance with Russian conductor Alexander Lazarev and the philharmonic last Friday was crippled by sluggishness from the orchestra, despite Lazarev's emotive style and Takezawa's crystal-clear articulation. The all-Russian programme began with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture. Lazarev partly succeeded in instilling narrative strength into a rendition that was marred by occasional lukewarm playing. Guest concertmaster Tomo Keller delivered his solo lines fluently, with a slightly dry tone. After the overture came Sergei Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto, a performance dominated by Takezawa's rounded, mellow tone. Her pitch perfection, nimble runs and lyrical phrasing created a refined interpretation that sometimes ran the risk of becoming too precious for its own good. This might be the most limpidly beautiful 20th-century violin concerto, but it also has moments of highly charged Russian energy. The accompaniment was proficient, but held back in many places. Alexander Liadov's Nenie - a subtle and sombre late-Romantic work in the Russian tradition - opened the second half. Lazarev and the philharmonic had good rapport here, revealing the interlacing of parts with fine balance and beautiful woodwind solos. Then came a perennial favourite - Alexander Borodin's Symphony No2. The orchestra didn't really do justice to this masterpiece, but their playing was professional and poignancy wasn't lacking in the lyrical passages.