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2011年9月12日 星期一

Three Cheers for Simon Trpceski

My second experience of the HKPO's concert is absolutely better than the first. I do not know why. It's the same orchestra and the same guest conductor. I suspect that it must have something to do with the music performed being Russian music. It definitely has something to do with the pianist Simon Trpceski, who performed for us in March this year Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.  The concert Saturday evening was an all Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) affair. We had first, his  Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 and for the second part of the concert, his Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 (1909). Although the conductor remains Lawrence Renes but we had Simon Trpceski as the solo pianist. Both were slim, disciplined and full of life.

I do not know how many times I heard Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. But it was the first time I heard such clear articulation of each note. Lawrence Renes definitely has his own ideas about the pace and the pauses for the piano concerto. It appears to me that he would take a very broad brush approach with regard to various passages: very fast in some places and then a rather longish pause before the next slow section is played, thus creating a very dramatic contrast between the different parts of the piece.

The piano concerto was written very quickly between June and September 1909 expressly for his American tour as a pianist and the same was premiered with great success by the NY Symphony under Walter Damorsch in November 1909. We had the simple theme which was endlessly repeated with variation from the opening few bars. It was written in the Romantic style of Tchaikovsky and was certainly technically demanding. However for Trpceski, it was a piece of cake. I like the way he played: forceful, fast and furious but still with crystal clarity and grace and elegance for the softer and slower passages. I also like the way Rachmaninoff switches seamlessly for some very forceful note almost instantly into some softer notes and passages. Trpceski drew so much applause from the fully packed concert hall that he generously gave us three encores, a piano trio with violin and cello and two piano adaptation of Macedonian folk songs alternating between joy and sadness and are delightful and wistful at the same time.  I liked his play so much that I was the first one to appear at the City Hall ticketing office the following morning to be sure to have another chance to listen to him in his piano solo concert scheduled at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I was lucky. It was not yet sold out!

After the intermission, we had Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 which is seldom played in Hong Kong. This symphony was written only after Rachmaninoff underwent hypno-therapy following the disaster of his first symphonic effort and the success of his second piano concerto. It was premiered in St. Petersburg in 1908 with himself as the conductor. He main motif was introduced early. I like the way Rachmaninoff ends his music at the very climax so that one comes away with a sense that it could no longer continue because any continuation would become a travesty of what went on earlier. I also like the way Lawrence Renes handled the music. Perhaps he felt himself in his own elements.  I have no complaints. An absolute delight!


Yefim Bronfman performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No, 3 with the Vienna Philharmonic under Gergiev.




                                        Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 under various conductors.