Concerts in the late autumn days

With SSO touring China in late Oct and RNO cancelling the "Pathetique" concert, I thought I would have to starve this month with nothing on my musical menu. But just so soon I realize, there are always oases even in a desert. And I’ve accumulated a list of concerts deserved a log. The following five concerts just happen to be a great mixture of western and eastern, from baroque to 20th century, covering almost all classical music styles over four hundred years..

Sep 26 Marriage of Figaro, Vienna State Opera with Seiji Ozawa, Esplanade Concert Hall

No doubt a high light of the whole music season. Since I knew all the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) members are from Vienna State Opera (VSO) Orchestra, this concert was marked on my calendar. With a little help from my friend, I was lucky enough to get a student ticket. (normal price $80 – $650). The repertoire was all time classic however lack of surprising for usual concert goers.. But this work allows VSO to show its best and the best of the work.
This super expensive concerts sold out much faster than my expectation. Ladies and gentlemen in gown and tuxedo were seen much more than any other weekend concerts. Where were these guys during other concerts? Did they come for music or for the fame or for social communication?
The music play was quite the trademark "Vienna Sound". However this was much affected by the seating. This was my worst seat in esplanade ever… The sound travelled to touch my skin with no more strength to enter my heart. For such a familiar work and reputable orchestra, it not to hard to imagine or interpolate (some of you guys may just call it YY) the finest sound at the better seats. The Opera singing part was quite satifying as well. The really surprising came from the mezzo-soprano performing Cherubino. Her aria was no doubt the most memorable part of the whole performence. In return she received the longest applause after the show. IMO, the Susanna was considered less starring in the concert. My rating 9 (-1). -1 due to my poor seating…

Sep 29 Siemens Classics – Remembrance of Things Past, SSO, Esplanade Concert Hall

I was stunned from the first note of Haydn symphony No.100. There was no warm up period for both SSO and my ears. SSO was playing at her high form from the very beginning. Elgar’s cello concerto played by cellist Wang Jian was good but audience’s expection just even higher. The encore Bach piece was a decent bonus for such a "sold more than out" concert (gallery was opened). This bonus further extended to second half with Wang Jian joining the orchestra cello section. Except for a few unconstances in the last movement, Dvorak’s eighth symphony was well interpred. Again SSO at her form proved the "World Class" claiming. My overall rating 8!

Oct 4 Northern Exposure – Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3, TPO, Esplanade Concert Hall

Thanks to concert master Ms. Jessie Ye, I was able to sit in the best seat of esplanade concert hall. The repertoire was an attraction as well. First half was Sibelius sym no.3 and second half was bonus Finnish chorals plus Sibelius sym no. 1. Obviously it’s not because my friend leading the second half I don’t like it. But I did prefer the sym no. 3. Probably due to the smaller scale, The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO) couped with it better. However this doesn’t explained everything, since last year the Shostakovich sym no. 7 "Leningrad" was done surprisingly well! Maybe just form… My rating 7.

Oct 5 午间音乐会, 新加坡华乐团(SCO), 南洋大礼堂

SCO重返NTU,虽然还是南洋烂礼堂,不过稍靠前排的座位还是可以听得。1小时的音乐会总共5个曲目。从周围朋友的反馈看,受到大家一致肯定的是"红楼梦"组曲, 不只一人说有潸然泪下的倾向。另外二胡协奏曲"长城随想"我觉得也不错。剩下的几个曲目编曲作曲都太通俗化,换句话说就是不耐听,当背景音乐还行。别看敲得鼓声阵阵,坐下来认真听还是容易犯困。严肃音乐总面临这样的问题,太严肃了听众群小,太通俗了又没深度,这个平衡实在难掌握。而真正的艺术家不应迎合大众而是引领大众。评分7(-0.5) -0.5因南洋大礼堂的混响太滥了,要是做后排起码再-1。。

Oct 5 Forma Antiqua, YST Conservatory Orchestra Hall

Just like its name, baroque music is the pearl on the crown of classical music. The heavenly peaceful fugue, the well balanced elegance has always been the favorite color on music palette. It’s like a God’s gift travelled over four hundred years to reach us. Unfortunately there aren’t many local baroque music concerts. This one brought by Spain embassy attracted much more audience than the organizer’s expectation. Besides my three friends, there were a few familiar faces from the orchestras. Organizers had to put more chairs at the back of the players to accomodate the overwhelming audience. The naming of "Orchestra hall" is very confusing. It’s actually a rehearse room for orchestra not a real concert hall.
The Forma Antiqua brought only the harpsichord, theorbor and baroque guitar players on this far east tour. It’s a pity they didn’t bring the strings players. So we didn’t hear the charming baroque violin and viola de gamba. Just more disappointing was the fact that they didn’t use harpsichord. Instead they use a tiny small clavichord as substitute. I guess this due to the transportation problem. Eventually it’s not too hard to find a harpsichord in Singapore. Same thing happened during last year Musica Antiqua Koln(MAK) concert. However MAK used a rather big clavichord, which is good enough to ignore the difference for unpicky ears.
Without strings, the ensemble couldn’t offer more varities from repertoire. The lime light of the concert went to the theorbor. After the applause, an encore piece from Grandos was given. Just a little bit ironically, as a concert memorizing Scarlatti, there wasn’t his trademark work on harpsichord. Maybe due to the toy like clavichord… My rating 6 (+1) +1 for baroque: )

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