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Immensely Astonishing Mozart Concerto

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Cultural Center, Tsim Sha Tsui
05/22/2009 -  & May 23*
Maurice Ravel: Mother Goose: suite
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No.24 in C minor, K. 491
Camille Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No.3 Organ, Op. 78

Ronald Brautigam (Piano), Vincent Dubois (Organ)
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Edo de Waart (Conductor/ Music Director)

Ronald Brautigam (© Marco Broggreve)

Mozartís Piano Concertos have been among the most welcomed repertoires of Hong Kong audience. On Friday and Saturday evenings, we had an opportunity to witness pianist Ronald Brautigam rendering an immensely astonishing and impeccably crafted version of Mozartís C minor Concerto that was indeed very difficult to find a rivalry. A student of the legendary figure Rudolf Serkin, Mr. Brautigam preserved his mentorís ever-questing musical mind on exploring the classical piano repertoires. Over the past decades, the Dutch pianist had already made an esteemed reputation by his extraordinary recordings of the complete Mozart and Haydn piano works on the fortepiano. Recently, this 55-year-old Dutchman has been accomplishing another massive project Ė recording Beethovenís sonata cycle also on the fortepiano. Although these are award and acclaim winning recordings, by merely hearing them on a Hi-Fi, one may not realize how consummate this musicianís artistry and virtuosity are.

Looking unkempt and disheveled, with a long and leonine mane of white hair, Mr. Brautigamís playing was just a complete opposite to his appearance. If this performance left one thing for certain, it was Mr. Brautigam's possession of an infallible technique that was totally at the service of polishing and refining every note he played. Unlike most pianists, who underscored the dramatic intensity and profound emotion of this concerto Ė K. 491 was Mozartís one of two concertos in minor keys Ė Mr. Brautigam adopted a more lyrical and exquisite approach, outlining Mozartís utmost simplicity and innocence. The piano solo entered with a dainty articulation and crystalline intonation. The semi-legato touch, together with his Ďflowing-like-oilí runs reminded us of the most delicate sound of a fortepiano, an instrument that Mozart used at his time. Even when it was in the vehement development, Mr. Brautigam never compromised his understated and sober dynamic control, while retaining the music's underlying intensity.

The second movement was, again, an exceptionally innocent and ingenuous reading. Here, Mr. Brautigam chose a relatively faster and more flowing tempo, which gave the music a rather plain-spoken and simple-minded sense. In the reprise of the main theme, he attached improvisatory ornaments (particularly to large leaps) as Andras Schiff and Leif Ove Andsnes do. Mr. Brautigamís native understanding to the Mozartean language was also fully displayed in the third movement, where all the articulation markings and dynamic changes were clearly observed and carefully delivered.

For encore, Mr. Brautigam rendered Mozartís famous Alla Turca from the Piano Sonata in A major. The musicís sly humor and heady grandeur were both idiosyncratically captured. It was an elegant, refined, yet insightful interpretation.

HKPOís rendition of the Mother Goose Suite was another absolute delight. Maestro de Waart explored every realm of orchestral colors that Ravel requires. It was accomplished by an exquisite balance and variegated sonorities. Saint-SaŽnsís Organ Symphony in the second half was slightly overshadowed in comparison. The sense of architectural coherence was assured by Maestro de Waartís remarkable structural awareness, which was tellingly exemplified in the first movement where the pace of the opening pizzicato was maintained throughout the whole movement. However, the lackluster strings and under-wrapped climax somehow painted the glorious final movement in the shades of grey.

HKPOís Website

Danny Kim-Nam Hui



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