Edo de Waart Meets Li Chuanyun Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra Cultural Centre Concert Hall Reviewed: June 23 Chinese violinist Li Chuanyun met Tchaikovsky last Friday in a virtuoso performance of his Violin Concerto that was so laid-back it was almost horizontal. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra shared the stage. Li possesses a staggering technique and a rainbow of sound qualities. He's also hooked on jazz. The habit surfaced early on with naughtily bent notes that developed into more brazen adaptations of Tchaikovsky's original intentions. The icy-thin tone with which Li opened the slow movement certainly caught the ear, but then seemed to serve little further emotional purpose. It reheated for the finale's fireworks where Li's relaxed technical wizardry again met with blue-note incursions. The audience's warm response was rewarded with an encore of jazz extensions to Paganini's own famous violin variations. This crossover treatment was also well-received, raising a fear that Oscar Peterson might someday be deconstructed tastefully into Bach. Tchaikovsky was honoured by Edo de Waart's reading of his Symphony No5. The opening minutes stamped the whole performance: excellent balance, speeds you couldn't possibly argue with and a refreshing brake on over-indulgence. The work is saturated with motivic repetition but the players' avoidance of bland restatements and de Waart's no-nonsense tempi ironed out any possible threat of lumpiness. Colourful details were nicely underscored in the general melodic sweep. The HKPO's beautifully poised string phrasing, homogenous wind sound and impeccably restrained brass - until finally let out of the cage - suggested that you might hear different, but not better. A decorous Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin opened the programme.