Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic unveils today the new 2013–4 season which marks the orchestra’s 40th birthday.
In an interview with me after the press conference, Mr. van Zweden says he wishes the orchestra to become more flexible to musical styles, and the first thing he focuses the coming year would be the orchestra’s adaptability to Baroque music. One of the biggest events of the season would be Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. A detailed interview article will be published on newspaper next week.
In the other extreme of the spectrum, Lorin Maazel would be conducting two concerts in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, and a special arrangement by Mr. Maazel on Ring without words.
To me, there are some bright spots on the musical choices themselves. In December there will be a concert of Witold Lutosławski’s cello concerto, one of the greatest cello concertos commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich in the 1960s after Dmitri Shostakovich’s compulsive first concerto and before Henri Dutilleux’s nocturnal Tout un monde lointain. This work will easily make Béla Bartók’s avant-garde Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta a piece of cake.
An equally creative concert is an evening with the most famous work of Joseph Canteloupe Chants d’Auvergne, a significant early work of Olivier Messiaen Les offrandes oubliées, and the rather emotional second symphony of Jean Sibelius.
There lacks no big names in the soloist roster: Emanual Ax, a long due return; Boris Berezovsky; Garrick Ohlsson; Sol Gabetta; Lang Lang; Chen Sa; Sumi Jo and … George Gershwin. Yes, that Gershwin, the one who wrote Rhapsody in Blue. Instead of practicing dark art of soul retrieval, the concert would be reliving how Gershwin played on a piano by realising what he recorded on a piano roll. Read more here about how this was done in a previously released recording.
A special concert would put Hong Kong Philharmonic back across the ocean to where it began: the Hong Kong City Hall, to mark its 40th birthday. I hope there’d be a birthday song and a cake.