HKPO’s season opening: Das Lied von der Erde

Before forgetting everything about the concert let me write a short note on the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) opening concert of Das Lied von der Erde.

Lawrence Rene conducts the HKPO, replacing Edo de Waart who has a medical condition. The opening Mozart tends to be literal. He follows all the repeats, which is not a common practice for Mozart symphonies. Sometimes it would sound a bit too long, and I would suggest that it’s because Rene’s rendition is not the most inviting.

The second half dedicates to Gustav Mahler. Stuart Skelton’s bright and brave sound resonates and the audience nods with immediate approval. Michelle DeYoung is intimate, and she sounds much more intense than she is in the recordings. Mahler’s low registers are tricky, but Ms. DeYoung manages to reach down the lows. The orchestra restores with energy and vigour.

I seldom complain about early outburst of applause, but for Das Lied it would be add an extra layer of annoyance. The applause abruptly breaks the lengthy morendo and effectively ruins the ending. I do not expect magic silence for every transpiring piece, but Mahler pens the notes to disappear in the air, with the applause simply shoots the balloons, that rising to heaven, down.

Ladies and gentlemen, give thanks to the breath you have, you are now on earth!

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