strauss festival – symphonia domestica SSO (11 jan)


KELLY TANG sinfonia concertante
MOZART piano concerto n. 23 in a major, k.488
R. STRAUSS symphonia domestica, op. 53

conducted by lan shui

the thing about pieces played by orchestras is, in my opinion, that they serve as translations of the composer’s work. just as books have translated versions, orchestras and conductors may have different interpretations of composed pieces. hence it is a little difficult to determine how much of my personal appreciation is attributed to the pieces’ very structure or the interpretation by the performers.

in any case, let me start off with my favourite piece – mozart’s piano concerto: featuring (piano) soloist fou ts’ong who turns eighty years old this year. it was… delicate. i found myself smiling for extended periods of time – the interaction and communication between the soloist and the orchestra was smooth, as though they were lovers in a conversation. while the piece started off with allegro (it consisted of adagio and allegro assai as well), it gradually shifted to a slow movement with deft yet sorrowful notes, especially from the soloist. in the finale, it seemed as though the darkness was pulled out like drawing curtains to daylight and ended off with such majesty. it was so, so, beautiful.

i had difficulty deciding on my favourite piece between mozart’s piano concerto and strauss’ symphonia domestica because both were equally rich and vibrant in their ways. what i liked about the strauss piece was the intensity and energy from the orchestra (especially the brass’ interaction with the timpani) and the violins’ tunes were fluid like melted gold running down a statue. fluid in tone and dynamics. the whole piece (forty-four minutes long) painted the images of a child, domestic life, familial relations–the cheekiness of the oboe d’amore’s tunes, the imposing yet warm embrace of the brass’ melodies. apart from the images, emotions were also brought out such as those of passion, reverie, and moroseness.

last but not least, kelly tang’s sinfonia concertante – it was the first piece that was performed (and the composer himself was present in the audience) and having played his overtures for syf 2011 i was a little expectant. it turned out to feel a little too baroque for my liking, in the manner that the timpani was used. probably because of the purposeful destabilisation of music flow and unfitting baroque/classical/romantic gestures to form a more contemporary piece, it sounded a little difficult to follow. was not as enjoyable although his style may be discerned. a little too post-modernist (if i may say so) for my liking. however the dynamics were brought out well and there was order in something that seemed like disorder.

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