The programme for this evening was certainly a change from the usual. There was the Asian premiere of a co-commissioned work and three pieces by French composers, with two of the works featuring German-born Jan Vogler on cello, accompanied by his wife, China- born Mira Wang, on violin.
Saint Saens' La Muse Et Le Poete (The Muse And The Poet) is one of a handful of well-known works for solo cello and violin accompanied by orchestra. The title was not assigned by the composer, but rather his publisher, Durand. It seemed as if Wang chose to play a gentler, suggestive muse to a stronger-willed poet, with Vogler carrying his lines more persuasively, and the effortless pairing of the soloists made this an evocative performance.
The couple have been championing new repertoire for violin and cello duos and the Duo Concertante For Violin, Cello And Orchestra by German composer Wolfgang Rihm was co-commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) with them as soloists.
THE MUSE AND THE POET
Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Shui Lan - conductor, Mira Wang - violin, Jan Vogler - cello, The Philharmonic Chamber Choir of Europe
Esplanade Concert Hall/Last Saturday
Dialogue once again features strongly and the soloists play in tandem for most of the piece. This dialogue traverses episodes of agitation, calmness and excitement, and Wang's penchant for contemporary music was evident. They played in perfect balance, with Shui Lan and the SSO providing impressive accompaniment.
The concert opened and closed with works by Debussy.
Jeux (Games) was the composer's last orchestral work, originally conceived as music for a ballet. Complex and bursting with little motifs, the SSO managed the challenging piece commendably, but never seemed fully at ease with the more than 60 tempo changes in the score.
Debussy's Nocturnes was played with polish and elan, the conductor and his musicians appearing to relish every second of the work.
Each of the three movements had their highlights. Elaine Yeo's haunting cor anglais solo in Clouds, the chorus of muted trumpets in Festivals and the Philharmonic Chamber Choir of Europe in Sirens were all on song.
With the rest of the orchestra in great form, Nocturnes brought the concert to an end on a high note.