There were around 100 men and women on stage dressed in sober black and white, the bright scarlet soles of an impossibly high-heeled pair of shoes worn by guest concertmaster Katharina Kang providing the only splash of colour.
Yet, whirring around inside our heads was such a dazzling array of colourful and dramatic images that it was like having one's own cinema screening a choice selection of classic movies. There was the slapstick chasing of a cartoon cat and mouse, the mysterious adventures of a strangely disembodied violin through the mists of time, an iconic figure from the days of the silent movies, and harrowing footage of death and destruction at the height of the Soviet Union.
Russian-born violinist Philippe Quint has recently undertaken a project to arrange and record the music of Charlie Chaplin, and he brought the most famous of these – Smile – to Singapore as his sentimental encore.
However, he was with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) not to celebrate Chaplin, but to deliver with amazing virtuosity music from a more recent cinematic era.
Composer John Corigliano has fashioned music from his original score for the 1998 movie The Red Violin into a concerto which, while being a stand-alone concert work, never fully shakes off its visual associations.
Conductor Andrew Litton rather sensationalised the various episodes so that it came across more as a string of powerfully evocative musical images than a coherent concerto, but that was most certainly not to the detriment of what was a very vivid performance.
The SSO opened the concert with the ridiculously manic, cartoon-like capers of Bernstein's Candide Overture (the nearest thing in classical music to a Tom and Jerry soundtrack) and did not appear to have worked all that vulgarity out of its system when it came to the Concerto.
The playing often felt as if it was straining at the leash, barely able to suppress its robust boisterousness, with the result that, while we could see Quint's bow flying across his violin like greased lightning, his sound had neither the presence nor power to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer force of the orchestral sound.
On the very day which marked the 67th anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin, we had a performance of Shostakovich's 10th Symphony. The composer had kept this hidden away for several years, terrified that it might be seen as paiRead More – Source[contf] [contfnew]