Ang Li Plays Chopin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 January, 2009, 12:00am

City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong

February 2, 8pm

Hong Kong City Hall

Do a Google search for 'Ang Li' and the top two of several thousand results produce information about the Oscar-winning director of Lust, Caution and Brokeback Mountain, known as Ang Lee to western cinema goers but Lee Ang to Chinese speakers.

However, the Ang Li who will be playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in F Minor with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong is not the 55-year-old filmmaker but a 23-year-old pianist.

The winner of several awards, including first prize and five special prizes at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal (OSM) Competition in 2003, Li, left, will make her Hong Kong debut at this February 2 concert. City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong (CCOHK) chief conductor Jean Thorel will wield the baton.

Thorel (inset) says he and Li have not previously crossed paths but has little doubt the Chinese pianist is a 'rising star' in the classical music world.

Li will perform Chopin pieces for the concert: Chopin mainly composed for solo piano and wrote only two concertos, both of them using piano as the main instrument. 'These piano concertos are less symphonic than, for instance, the concertos of Schumann or Beethoven,' Thorel says. 'The orchestra remains like a discreet partner.'

He believes Chopin's concertos are better suited being played by smaller orchestras so the sound does not overwhelm the featured instrument. 'As far as the size of the orchestra is concerned, the CCOHK is the perfect size,' he says.

The CCOHK also will play Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam, Benjamin Britten and Haydn's Symphony No73 in D Major, La Chasse, at the concert.

Part, an Estonian composer, uses English composer Benjamin Britten's name in his work's title because he admired him greatly and was inspired to compose a meditation on death to mourn Britten's passing, Thorel says.

'Part discovered and really loved Britten's music but regretted that he never had the chance to meet Britten before his death at the age of 76,' he says.

In the work he makes use of the compositional style known as 'tintinnabulation'. Its name is derived from the Latin tinnabulae, meaning 'of bells', and it incorporates bell sounds. Part is famed for this technique.

The final piece in the programme also features some sounds that are unusual in a classical music concert. Thorel says Haydn 'enjoyed hunting immensely and was very good at it'.

Hunting was also a popular theme of 18th-century musical culture. The result of that mix is a Haydn symphony with a subtitle that translates as English as The Hunt, complete with horn hunting calls.

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