總瀏覽量

2012年3月5日 星期一

The Bavarian Symphony Orchestra in Hong Kong

This weekend is really wonderful. Almost immediately after the sonic feast of Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, I experienced another. This time, it came from a completely different musical tradition; one from the land of beer and waltzes: Germany. It came in the form of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding.

The first part of the programme on Sunday consisted of the lieders of one of my favourite composers Mahler, who had a very special fondness for German folk melodies. We had two songs from his Das Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn) based upon some folk poems collected by two poet-editors Achim von Arnim and Clemens Bretano published in early 19th century but adapted for use by Mahler in the 1890s viz. Wer hat dies Liedel erdacht (Who Thought Up this Song) and Rheinlegendchen (Rhine Legend). Then we got some songs from Mahler's Ruckert-Lieder viz. Blicke mir nicht in de Lieder (Look not into my songs), Ich atmet einern linden Duft (I breathed a gentle fragance), Um Mitternacht (At mid-night). Liebst du um Schonheit (If you love for beauty) and Ich bin der Welt abhandene gekommen (I am lost to the world). They were songs about the pains of love, about bees, man's longing for God etc. in German folk lores sung for us by baritone Christian Gerhaher, a tall young man who sang with a very mellifluous and rounded voice but I wished he could have sung a little louder.   

The second half of the concert consisted of one long work from Anton Bruckner ( when do we have a work from him which is not long), his sympony No. 5, in B flat , one published in 1876, in Adagio-Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo : Molo vivace and Finale in Adagio-allegro Moderato. It has two main motifs which are endlessly repeated, sometimes softer and more lyrical, sometimes louder, more dynamic, sometimes faster, sometimes slower but it came to a spectacular ending with the orchestra in full blast, true to Bruckner's belief that Wagner's music was the way to go.  It's not always easy to listen to Bruckner without falling asleep  and drifting off from time to time because he seemed so repetitive. But thanks to Harding, I  managed to stay awake at all times. The orchestra was really good. Its sound seemed so integrated. It got verve too. That's important. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is very disciplined and played with typical German precision and synchrony. Harding conducted with very restrained movement of his fingers and his body but seemed to have absolute control of the orchestra which sounded truly like one single breathing sound machine. It played to a packed house. But despite the long applauses, we didn't have any "encores". But it was good enough.