Kolja Blacher directs Mozart Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall Reviewed: May 4 Kolja Blacher simultaneously played and directed Beethoven's Violin Concerto with panache in this Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concert. The German violinist sailed through the work with creamy violin tones and effortless mastery. His solo playing was suave and engaging without undue showiness, giving breadth and opulence to the first movement, scintillating tenderness to the second and a bouncy gait (spiced with a whirlwind virtuoso display) to the third. Blacher whipped up some swaggering orchestral performances from the podium when he wasn't playing. And when he was busy with the solo lines, he still managed to keep everything together, although another conductor may have chosen to bring more refinement to the piece. There were also some awkward wind utterances and the orchestra could hardly keep pace with Blacher several times during the first movement. But that was compensated for by a passage in the slow movement in which the violin glided along lyrically in the high register to the serenading accompaniment of string pizzicato, which was sublime. The Beethoven concerto was the second half of the programme, which the orchestra also performed at the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival yesterday. The first half featured two classical symphonies: Haydn's No 39 and Mozart's No 33. Blacher, formerly first concert master of the Berlin Philharmonic, directed a smaller Hong Kong Philharmonic from the front desk. The orchestra played in a lush style, but was often too coarse. The minuets, for example, could have been improved with a daintier gait. Some of the audience showed up only for the concerto. They didn't miss much.