A Symphonic Century - Titan Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall Reviewed: Sept 12 This first programme in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's trilogy exploring 19th-century symphonic music featured Mahler's Symphony No 1, Titan. It was a terrific performance that captured Mahler's way of rebounding between morbid dread and full-throated exultation. The organic unfolding of the opening movement was controlled through masterly gradations in speed, dynamics and texture. Conductor Edo de Waart charted a smooth course with never a hint of gear-grating between the wide mood swings. The second movement delivered a stark contrast between music for rustic barns and music for opulent ballrooms (although the latter might have teased more seductively). The third movement's funereal atmosphere slipped into flippant visions of village bands with just the right amount of surreal parody. The players were generally in splendid form. The strings' range of softer tones was particularly effective, and the brass retained sufficient stamina in the finale's closing bars to fuel de Waart's call for incandescent flourishes. Averaging two minutes each, Berg's Seven Early Songs received soprano Dagmar Schellenberger's sustained attention to textual detail. She gave Nachtigall a telling transformation from hushed intimacy to an open heart; and her floated high note that quietly closed Traumgekront was one to remember. Orchestral passages with lusher scoring, however, weren't always sensitive to the overall balance with the voice. The hesitant start to Mendelssohn's Overture, A Midsummer Night's Dream, soon gave way to a performance brimming with dramatic detail.