The Rite of Spring HK Cultural Centre, Concert Hall Reviewed: November 9 Igor Stravinsky's score for the ballet The Rite of Spring caused fisticuffs at its premiere and was Marilyn Monroe's preferred classical piece - perhaps implying an experience almost too hot to handle. Without visuals, however, concert performances can sag unless they step outside the box. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Edo de Waart, stayed on familiar territory. Having opened with refreshing urgency and clarity of woodwind colour, the playing was dynamically faithful and rhythmically assured, but predictable. The Chairman Dances from John Adams' opera Nixon in China would have challenged first-time listeners with its static, minimalist style. But the performance neatly introduced the trading of east-west idioms - a theme handled expertly in the central work. Chen Qigang's Iris Devoilee blends the western orchestra with Chinese traditional instruments and aligns sensuous vocalisations with the qingyi style of Peking opera. De Waart produced bitingly icy textures in Jealousy, and soprano soloists Wu Yanyu and Meng Meng used their focused high tessitura to electrifying effect in Hysterical. The orchestra was captivating in Tender. Wong Ching (pipa), Hsin Hsiao-hung (erhu) and Luo Jing (zheng) wove highly sensitive strands into the fabric, and Concertmaster John Harding's many solo passages made a significant contribution.