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: )



要说最不适应还是老外演中国故事。如果说多明戈化妆下还多少蛮像中国帝王,栎阳公主和皇后都变美国人了我实在不适应。。到了后来修长城的几幕,奴工也大都是老外出演,白人黑人都有。原来吾大秦帝国这么剽悍过,难怪最近又有中国威胁论。。 想想也挺可惜,中国大概一段时间内也不大可能做出类似的歌剧作品。上次回家去想去补课听次秦腔都没能如愿,不知现在易俗社重开了否。


今晚是维也纳国家歌剧院亚洲巡演费加罗婚礼。以前看过歌剧版现场,这次concert version完全是冲着Vienna State Opera Orchestra和小泽征尔去的,因为基本就是Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra的一个子集。否则无任何歌剧舞台表演,干唱3小时意大利语,虽说有英文唱词翻译可看,也是相当考验人。。不过我惊讶的发现这丝毫没有影响到票务销售。从$80到$650的票全部早早售罄,多亏了朋友帮忙我才捞了张学生票。期待这个月圆之夜,咳咳,魍魉杂食但不吃地球人,不健康,还有可能会得牛海绵状脑病。



From Europe with Fantasy

Sep 14 Friday evening, Esplanade Concert Hall

After a three week trip, Samuel was back from Lurcerne Music Festival. We dined in marina square before the evening SSO concert. Obviously his corporeity is back in Singapore his motherland, but not his mind, which is still wandering in Europe. I told him it took me at least a few weeks to get my soul back after my first Euro trip. After sharing his 18 concerts and other experience during the trip, I guess I would be going for the festival in 5 years time. And be the only few asian face, being stared by others like monster? 

At the entrance to concert hall. I met LL and his GF, whom I helped recommend and buy tickets. I had always been promoting arts especially music among my friends. It’s a bit unlucky for their first time concert experience. The evening concert wasn’t really fine. Some nasty audience were making noises all along the concert. The ushers even had to stop them during the concert….And the first two pieces in the repertoire were a bit sleepy I would say….Luckily as usual I had a cup of coffee before the concert.
During the intermission I met another two friends, Jessie and her student. I told them I would go for their Sibelius concert in Oct.

The second half of the concert was better, the brass done a good job in a few movements.
After the concert, Samuel and I went to the old place to quench our thirst for water and talk. He passed me a pack of Swiss chocolate (sinfully smooth sweet) and a CD of LSOlive recording Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique(pal, you really knows my musical taste well) as gift. With the new gem joining my collection, I have four different versions of this work, all full of fantasy! 

The Magic Flute in Cinema

It was last year the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Nonetheless, the genius’s influence is certainly not to be bounded by time. Concerts and operas are still playing all over the world’s concert halls and theaters. From the beginning of this year, "The Magic Flute" futher extended this magic to cinema with HD production by Metropolitan Opera. Last weekend, this magic has shown its existence in Singapore, to be precise, GVmax in Vivocity. Must thank GV for bringing in this series. 

I should have called up and met my friends before the show. However I had to attend the annual meeting of AGO singapore chapter. So I wasn’t able to know beforehand whether I was able to show up before the opera started. Actually I’m not yet an active member in the Singapore organ music society. But I did benefit from AGO and met some of my best friends. So I signed up the membership just to contribute a little bit. Ahha, I’m with a grateful heart always.

Back to the cinema, I finally had myself seated before the show started. That’s a pretty nice seat, quite close to the center of the hall, which allowed me to evaluate GV’s best hall’s acoustic and sound system. This HD version is the recorded Dec 2006 with James Levine conducting the orchestra. The stage design and costumes are contemporary. Well, I have no bias, but I really prefer the orginal setting as shown below.

The story wasn’t complex and more important it’s in English not German. I followed up the performance quite well till the last second of the casts and found myself again the only few left in the hall. I turned into the Food Republic next door for a drink and disappeared in illusion with a miss call sent.

The singing and stage performence: 8/10. The coloratura soprano sung pretty impressively. Papageno’s performence too.
The stage and costume design: 7/10. "The Phantom of the Opera" is still the best I seen so far.
Sound reproduction: 6/10. I have no idea whether it’s due to the recording or the GVmax sound system. Guess it’s the later one. It’s incomparable to a live orchestra.
Video reproduction: 7/10. Good.
Overall: 7. At least I dun need to travel to NY.


The funniest QMD


But the facts are:

J.S.Bach: First wife died at age 36.
Mozart: Himself died age 35.
Beethoven: Troubled all through his life, never married any one though engaged once.
Tchaikovsky: His only marriage broke up in nine weeks. Thereafter or even before that he turned to homosexuality and Platonism.
Berlioz: With Symphony Fantasitique, he won his love, however only for a very short period of time.
Let’s travel through time and space line to modern China, 窦唯(Dou Wei)、张国荣(Lesile Cheung); Stretch a little bit wider to visual artists, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Ruiz Picasso….

The extraordinary and abnormal are sometime the same thing with different interpretions.
Don’t blame me, my musician friends, those guys I mentioned are far away from us. And I presented truth and facts only~_~ 

“If music be the food of love, play on…” Shakespeare

                        A quick review of SSO on Campus Concert

“If music be the food of love, play on…”

                                                    —— Shakespeare

So at the dinner time I went to the Nanyang auditorium for this concert delivery.

After the tuning lead by concert master Kong Zhaohui, conductor maestro Lim Yau stepped on the podium in the audience’s applause.

Romeo & Juliet: Fantasy Overture Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Based on Shakespeare’s famous play, this piece is a typical Tchaikovsky work with passion, sweet sorrow melody and fatalism.

The introduction opens with clarinets and bassons in a quiet and slow pace. Soon the strings join in this wish and pray session. After a few repeat and variations, the strings develop into a more dramatic and conflict scene, which embodies the fights between the Romeo and Juliet families. The orchestra suddenly quiet out to end the first theme.

Lead by viola, the famous love theme finally arrives in the auditorium. Woodwinds soar over this theme again accompanied by harp and strings. Development session closed in the peace and quiet harp.

The fights appear again and become more intensive. Attacks from the cymbals push the conflicts to the climax. The love theme comes back with determination and courage, however finally overwhelmed by the funeral like sound by the strings and timpani. The fatalism rules over love. For the last time, the love theme was delivered slow and quiet. It soars high above like in heaven before the tragic love story finally closed by the full orchestra.

For this piece, affected by the horrible acoustics of the auditorium, the silky strings of SSO disappeared, left with us a little dull timbre. The woodwinds have done a satisfying job. However, it’s almost impossible to capture a well balanced orchestra in such a hall. I would rate this performance 7 out of 10 despite the venue.

Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen, Op. 25 Pablo de Sarasate (1804-1908)

As a familiar works to all, this serves as an ear attracting piece in the whole programme. However, this shortest piece in programme also serves the worst performance. The soloist was not in a communication with the orchestra and conductor. The harmony in between was more or less tore apart. If you closed your eyes and focused your ears to the stage during this performance, you would agree with me. The soloist may be technically good, but he still has room to improve to work with orchestras. There was an inappropriate applause after the second movement and only the one in today’s concert. You may notice the interesting smiles on the musicians’ faces as well. Another interesting thing happened after the performance. The applause was not long enough for an encore. But four bunches of flowers were brought for the soloist. They should know that the soloist has to at least hold his violin with one hand. Ironically, no flower was brought for the conductor after the entire concert. I give 6 out of 10 for this performance.

Symphonic Suite on a Set of Local Tunes Kelly Tang (b. 1961)

This was my most interested piece in the programme since I never heard it before. A few other works by Prof. Tang has attracted me very much. As stated by the composer, this piece uses vast and exquisite sonic palette of the orchestra. The music itself is joyful and light-hearted. However the lack in depth may be the point to attack. 7/10.

Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 19 Midsummer Vigil Hugo Alfven (1872-1960)

Finally in this piece, SSO was more or less back to its form. From the musicians’ faces, you can tell a little as well. Cheerful and well controlled. SSO demonstrated its quality on this technical demanding piece. 8 out 10 from me.

Fiddle Faddle Leory Anderson (1908-1975)

After two rounds of applause, came the encore piece Fiddle Faddle by Leory Anderson. As told by the conductor, this is a show piece for the orchestra. SSO kept the good sound on and closed the whole concert.

A few other thoughts:

The use of video projection was a two-edged approach. It did capture the orchestra and musicians with more detail. This may be a good attracting point for newcomers of classical music. However the more important part of a concert is always to focus on listening music.

The acoustic property of Nanyang Auditorium is really horrible. The excess of reverberation distort the whole hall. I would suggest audience to sit a little bit closer to the stage than usual to compromise this.

There was also a very annoying noise from the sound system on the ceiling. Can’t imagine how this could be. But it did deteriorate the performance all along.

Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5 (Cont’d)

Before Friday’s concert, as usual I met and dined with Samuel. He led me to the newly opened Food Republic in Suntec. It’s really a great place to dine. Very nicely decorated in an old fashioned library, clean and cool. Nonetheless the most important part, the fried fish soup I ordered was gorgeous and cheap.

Back to music. The first half of the concert was Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. I like the second movement particularly. Sweet, slow and smooth, these are what I’d like to hear from piano rather than dramatic skills show off. Indeed, for piano, it’s even tougher to perform a slow piece like it’s not easy to link pearls into a necklace.

After the intermission was my long expected Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5. The sorrow theme was started by the clarinets with string accompaniment. This is the "complete resignation before Fate", which some reviewers believed to be a sign of the composer’s going towards homosexuality. Dialoges between the winds and strings enbodied the fate and attempts. The second movement was led by strings and soon a solo horn, which is rare in symphony. Sweet and sorrow, vivid and profound, this melody explained the composer’s sidenotes on the score "how I love you". It was such a touching one, the monster was feeling his eyes wet. Before the tear drops, the "fate" overwhelmed the hall from strings. "attemps" came back as well, however "fate" is fate. Waltz in the third movement let audience temporarily forget about all the unhappiness. However "fate" theme came back again and scattered all the dreams. The finale is the most interesting and controversial part. "fate" theme ironicly returned in variation, heroically and brilliantly. Sounds as if a victory march insteady of the tragic fate. Tchaikovsky himself ever doubted about this symphony. In his letter to von Meck:"There is something so repellent about such excess, insincerity and artificiality", "too colourful, massive, insincere, drawn out and on the whole very unsympathetic …" This doubt, which I believe, is the motivation behind Symphony No.6 "Pathetique". That’s the real "complete resignation before Fate" and after which "death".

SSO’s performence was satisfying. I would rate it 7.5 out of 10, considering still so eary in the season. An intimate evening with music before my paper weekend T_T.


前两天整理、同步笔记本和台式机的mp3库。又一次在UMO (Unknown Music Object)文件夹里见到了熟悉而又陌生的Organ_Solo.mp3。此琴曲在这文件夹里放了1年多了,我却一直想不起哪里下的,谁作曲谁演奏。还有次差点删掉。


再听一边,真是很对胃口。只是在听第三遍时注意到录音开始部分有噪音。仔细听一下感觉很像用MD录音时麦克离机身太近。显然不是录音室里出来的东西,虽然录音质量还勉强。啊,突然意识这个这个有可能就是我自己录的。。。。再听一遍,确认了。。确认是我自己以前录着玩的,用的是我那架万里之外背来的琴。。我说怎么听起来不像管风琴。。幸亏是我随便用MD录得,要是去试验室里Recording Room录,恐怕永远找不到答案了。

这真是太。。。了,立刻改文件名,填入ID Tag

Title: 即兴曲 VW001 Improvisation on Accordion Organ

Artist: 魍魉  Composer: Vincent WANG Liang  Year: 2005 Genre: Classical


p.s. quoted from Wikipedia: Improvisation is the practice of acting and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment.

Decipher Code: 5-3461 and Music

A parcel of 25 CDs arrived this afternoon, from which I found my own orderings including J.S.Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos by ABO/ Koopman and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6 "Pathetique" by VPO/Karajan. The first one are euphonious baroque pieces, pure music like from heaven or maybe Mars? While the second one is the most heartstricken piece you can find in classical music, no, I should say in all human being music libraries on earth. As an A type aquarius monster, I’m collecting both.

I would never recommend anyone to listen to the second piece when he or she is sad. I still remember clearly the first and last time I played this work in my undergraduate dorm.  From then on, all my classical collections were prohibited from playing thru a pair of loudspeakers in the dorm. My dormmates said this piece was like funeral music. I was actually quite happy that time coz they were at least partly right.

Before getting this disc I got another version of this work already. However I seldom put it in my CD player in recent years. I dare not to listen to it unless I’m really sad. This piece is like doom to the composer who died two weeks after the first performence of this piece. All that left were two versions of this work and countless concerts with people cheering and crying.

Not really too surprisingly I realize my top 3 symphonies covered all that life is about. However If without Beethoven’s No. 9 "Choral", there would be only "Tragic" left—— Berlioz’s "Symphony Fantastique" and Tchaikvosky’s No.6 "Pathetique". Thank God I have all these!