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Concert review: SSO takes time to hit its stride on Mahler's Titan challenge

Published on Mar 2, 2014 10:40 AM

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra's principal guest conductor Okko Kamu opened Friday evening's concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall with a commendable performance of music from his homeland - The Swan of Tuonela by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

This intense, ethereal tone poem demands outstanding direction from the conductor, which Kamu duly provided. The orchestra played with fine graduation of dynamics and delicate phrasing but could not fully achieve the bleak lakeside imagery conveyed in the music.

The swan's melody, performed on English horn by guest musician Maxwell Spiers was well played, if not an outstanding performance. More convincing was associate principal cellist Yu Jing, who delivered the cello solos with clear tone and great sensitivity.

Pascal Roge has been consistent favourite of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's audience, although he is primarily associated with French piano works. Nonetheless his performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was stylish and convincing. Taking a modern but not overly romantic approach, he played with polish and great dexterity, although his liberties with tempo were sometimes distracting.

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