The Singing Violin Hong Kong Sinfonietta City Hall Concert Hall Reviewed: Dec 6 Austrian violinist Benjamin Schmid closed this Hong Kong Sinfonietta concert with encores that crossed strings, technical barriers and fusion styles. And he almost shuffled into an Irish jig at one point. Schmid (below, right) doesn't give off-the-peg performances. His reading of Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto was permeated by innovative ideas in tone, articulation and rubato. Conductor Yip Wing-sie and the orchestra were at one with Schmid, particularly in the outer movements, the finale's crispness maintaining an exciting momentum throughout. Yiu Song-lam's oboe solo in the slow movement was rightly acknowledged. The other major work was Ludwig van Beethoven's Fourth Symphony, regarded as the composer's least popular. Yet, Beethoven strews the music with invitations to pull punches. This performance couldn't be faulted in the first movement for tightness in ensemble, but the conservative speed clipped its potential for greater panache. The slow movement buried the nagging dotted rhythm motif, highlighting the masculine-feminine contrasts around it. The Scherzo's syncopations are usually played with more kick, but the finale found the right vim and tongue-in-cheek fun to fulfil the composer's intentions. Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis featured the Grainger Quartet (the Sinfonietta's artist associate next season), and the evening opened with the first performance of Quicksilver Swirls, by Joyce Tang Wai-chung, a study in mercurial shifts of colour and movement in shoals of fish that captured the sub-aqua atmosphere in the slow central section.