A Symphonic Century III: The Valkyrie Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall Reviewed: Sept 26 Beethoven's First Symphony and Act 1 of Richard Wagner's opera, The Valkyrie, are perhaps odd bed-fellows for a concert. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's three-part survey of 19th-century music ended where it might have begun by performing the earliest of the featured symphonies last. The theme and chronology might have been at odds, but there was nothing out of kilter with Edo de Waart's direction of Wagner's score. The orchestra functioned perfectly, switching fluently from accompanist to scene painter. If only the hall's acoustics could have allowed the double basses more resonance - a quality that unified the three solo singers. Sieglinde, soprano Janice Watson, matured from timorous wife to rapturous free spirit - the one detraction being that her eyes, and therefore her voice - were too often focused on the score. Daniel Sumegi (Hunding) produced a cavernous bass that was truly disturbing, but tenor Simon O'Neill as Siegmund left the audience in complete admiration of his extensive vocal colour and dramatic intuition. If anything divides opinion on Beethoven's First Symphony, it's the choice of speeds. De Waart took the opening and closing movements at a fair lick, the players ducking and weaving with style and precision. The third movement, however, was too stately to capitalise on its muscular syncopations; when the stage lights blacked out during the performance, one wondered if Beethoven was in agreement.