Mozart in the City Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra City Hall Concert Hall Reviewed: Apr 10 Concert master John Harding certainly put himself on the spot in this mixed bill, both directing and taking solo parts in works by Bach, Mozart and Richard Meale before picking up the baton to conduct Bartok's Divertimento for strings. The title implies light-hearted amusement, but it's a bittersweet work with darkness just below its pleasant surface. The performance glossed over the desolate undercurrents, and opportunities for highlighting passages with vivid changes in colour weren't exploited. Harding was the soloist in Meale's Cantilena pacifica for violin and string ensemble. Written in memory of a close friend, it's a static work, both rhythmically and emotionally, with little substance. Viola soloist Robin Hong joined Harding for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K364. They made a satisfactory pairing, although Hong's sound was repeatedly obscured by the oboes in the first movement. The Andante needed better characterisation and a more consistent speed to secure its operatic pathos; the finale's bounce was spoiled by being too fast. Given the calibre of the 11 players involved, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No3 was disappointing. The opening movement's over-urgent speed undermined the group's rhythmic tightness, while the finale's exuberant, wave-like motifs barely rippled.