Friday, 12 June 2015

Classical Music Eye Candy

Wang Yujia wore this dress tonight, the same as when she met the Queen
Tonight was the first of two concerts given by fast-rising star Wang Yujia with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the handover. The concert was sponsored by a health product company, though not all members of the audience got any samples to try.

There were some bigwigs sitting in prime seats -- former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie, and members of Tung's extended family, as the Tung Foundation was a sponsor.

The orchestra players had settled in, practicing on stage and were about to finish, when Grandpa Tung decided to go up the stairs to the loo. And we actually waited for him to come back and take his seat before the concertmaster came out.


Wang showing off some leg and skin in a concert in LA
If it was any other person, the concert would have started without him/her and they would have to wait at least half an hour to get back in.

But back to the concert. I saw her perform back in May 2007 in Beijing when she was 19 years old and was impressed then so I was curious to see how Wang had developed her musical talent.

From then to now she has gotten some flack for her outfits, though she seems to brush off the critics. She's worn very short dresses, and says she'll get to wearing longer ones when she's 40.

Uh huh.

Tonight she walked out in a florescent lime green dress with a deep V at the back, and lots of intricate cut outs in strategic places, and there was a mini train at the back. It was a pretty amazing feat not to trip on her dress.

But I wish she'd have a stylist help her pick some not so obnoxious clothes... you can be a rebel at the keyboard and look cool too...

For tonight's concert she played Mozart's Piano concerto no. 9 in E flat, K.271, Jeunehomme -- but not from memory. The sheet music was placed on top of the piano and she had no problems playing and flipping pages at the same time.

However, not having memorized the piece seem to have prevented her from fully expressing herself, even though she had fantastic technique in manipulating the piano to get the sounds she wanted.

This piece is Mozart's ninth piano concerto out of 27, and academics consider it to be the first of the composer's outstanding works. It started off light and refreshing, with the piano coming in very soon after the beginning.

But things seemed to drag in the second movement that Wang seemed to play robotically, though things picked up at the end. It seemed like a piece she didn't seem keen to perform and felt like her talents were wasted -- that she was raring to go elsewhere.

She got a rousing applause and came out several times and made very energetic bows with her arm across her heart... then walking carefully back inside. Wang finally did an amazing encore, a riff on a minuet that had a jazzy lilt and technically became more intense towards the end.

Like Lang Lang, she's a show stopper and it was a nice way for her to finish her participation in the concert.

And likewise it seemed Grandpa Tung had had enough for the day; he and members of his entourage left during intermission. Too bad for them because they missed a fantastic performance.

Conductor Jaap van Zweden led the orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony no. 3 in E flat, Eroica. Originally Beethoven wrote this piece dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, a musical way to pay homage to the leader.

Two years later, though, Napoleon declared himself Emperor, which meant he would consider himself above others. Beethoven was so angry that he apparently ripped his title page in half and threw it on the floor. It was later changed from to Eroica.

The performance overall was so energetic and lively, it was a pleasure to watch van Zweden in action. I sat on the balcony, on the left side of the concert hall and was able to see him making facial expressions, and a closer look at the musicians.

Most commendable were clarinetist John Schertle and flautist Megan Sterling.

What a contrast between the first and second halves of the concert! Glad I stayed to the end!

Yujia Wang Triptych 1 -- Mozart
Mozart: Piano Concerto no. 9 in E flat, K.271, Jeunehomme
Rondeau: Presto

Beethoven: Symphony no. 3 in E flat, Eroica
Allegro con brio
Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Finale: Allegro molto

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