The first piece of the evening is Mendelssohn's "overture" which is not an overture to any opera but more a tone poem: his Hebrides, more popularly known as "Fingal Cave Overture", written in 1830 and premiered in 1932, a piece of music inspired by his visit to the cave on the island of Staffa, just off the coast of the Hebrides Archipelago in Scotland. It's mood music. In this piece, Mendelssohn sought to express hi impression of the desolation he felt on the island, the undulating motion of the waves as they lap the rocky coast one after the other, the sprays they create etc., He's not concerned to express any particular "message" or thematic subject. The music itself has become its own subject. I never heard the piece performed with more balance and perhaps for that reason felt the relevant mood more vividly. Listening to the music, I seemed transported to that magical and mesmerizing island, that cave.
The next piece is completely different: Rachmaninoff's very romantic and passionate Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op 30. Performing the piano solo for us is a young Russian from Tashkent: Behzod Abduraimov. His interpretation of the piece is really careful and sensitive to all the nuances of the music and not at all bombastic and brash, like Lang Lang. He plays always with a studied restraint but somehow I feel that his left hand notes could sound just a trifle too loud at times, thus clouding the clarity of the right hand notes and he could have played with slightly more power in certain passages. But I like his rather more restrained interpretation which leaves something for the imagination, suggestive rather than too explicit. The orchestral accompaniment is almost perfect: there is constant "call and response" as in jazz music, each sensitive to the other. The orchestra seldom overshadow the soloist, the two creating a sense of unity and completeness which neither alone could achieve by itself. Sometimes, one gets the impression that it's a symphony rather than a concerto, with the piano being given a more prominent role than the others except of course for the cadenza, when Abduraimov could fully express himself his own way. The most important thing is that he played with feeling and is not at all concerned, unlike some pianists, about displaying his own pianistic virtuosity than being merely the servant of the relevant music. This shows also in the encore mood piece he played for us.
It's music as it should be: concerned with nothing but the portrayal of the ebb and flow of all kinds of sentiments, emotions and moods otherwise inexpressible except through the complex texture of different kinds of sound, with its different intensity, its different pitches, its harmonics, its speed, its rhythm and even its silences all artfully combined in just the right proportions by the right kind of interpreters led by an excellent conductor who has his own ideas about how the music should be played. Hence 4 cheers for Thomas Dausgaard, Behzod Abdurarimov & the HKPO. I'm grateful to them all for a most satisfying evening of live music.