The enchanting ambiance of Hong Kong City Hall was palpable on October 21, as the Hong Kong Sinfonietta took center stage for a captivating evening of classical excellence, delivering both delightful symphonies and mesmerizing violin concertos.
The first half of the concert, which was dedicated entirely to the genius of Mozart, witnessed the Sinfonietta evoke a sense of airy elegance under the astute direction of their music director, Christoph Poppen. Their rendition of Symphony No 33 resonated with authentic Mozartian lightness and spirit. However, there were moments where the first violin’s strong articulation slightly overshadowed the second violins. Notably, in the Andante moderato, the combined ethereal melodies of the oboists resulted in a musical tapestry that was sheer beauty. Furthermore, the Menuetto and its contrast with the relaxed Trio that followed captured the essence of Mozart’s playful genius, despite moments of subdued intensity.
This momentum was magnificently complemented when German violin virtuoso, Veronika Eberle, graced the stage to perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3. Using the 1700 “Dragonetti” Stradivarius, Eberle’s music effortlessly danced through the Allegro, engaging in delightful musical dialogues with the Sinfonietta. Her unparalleled skills shone throughout, especially during her solo cadenza, where every note glittered with inventiveness. The Adagio was pure magic, as Eberle’s theme delicately floated over the orchestra, leading to a spellbinding cadenza. The Rondeau: Allegro brought out the youthful exuberance of the concerto, and by the end, the applause and appreciation from the audience were well-deserved.
Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor, often referred to as the “Unfinished Symphony”, is a piece surrounded by conjecture and mystery. For whatever reasons Schubert left it incomplete, the two movements he crafted are rife with emotion and depth. The Sinfonietta’s interpretation, while presenting moments of elegance, perhaps could have delved deeper into the drama of Schubert’s intentions, particularly in the emotionally charged sections. Poppen’s command and the orchestra’s synchronicity were commendable, even though the desired intensity seemed to elude them occasionally. An unexpected applause from the audience briefly disrupted the transition to the enigmatic Andante, but Poppen’s quick intervention ensured a smooth continuation.
The evening’s final offering was a contemporary piece by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa titled “Genesis for Violin and Orchestra”. This piece, both a co-commission by the Sinfonietta and a tribute to Eberle and her newborn, encapsulated the wonder of life and birth. Eberle’s interpretation was deeply introspective, embracing the sonic tapestry painted by Hosokawa. The piece’s evolution from an almost primordial sound, which the composer likens to “amniotic fluid”, to its culmination mirrored the journey of life itself.
Conclusively, the evening was not just a concert; it was a musical odyssey that traversed different eras, moods, and narratives.