Best & Worst 2017

Best & Worst 2017: Classical Concerts

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra's performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony was a sonic spectacular.
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra's performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony was a sonic spectacular. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

BEST

Messiaen Turangalila, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Esplanade Concert Hall, April 1

It took the Singapore Symphony Orchestra some 23 years to perform Olivier Messiaen's massive 10-movement, 75-minute-long Turangalila Symphony again, but it was well worth the wait.

The French composer's grand conception of universal love, encompassing sacred, profane and carnal varieties, with Andreas Haefliger (piano), Cynthia Millar (Ondes Martenot) and more than 100 musicians (including 10 percussionists) led by Shui Lan proved to be the year's most impressive sonic spectacular.

Dreams Of Homeland, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Victoria Concert Hall, May 21

Seldom has a visiting soloist so dominated a concert than Chinese dizi exponent Zhang Weiliang with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra conducted by Yeh Tsung.

Other than the purely orchestral overture, he played in every work of the two-hour-long concert, including his own composition Tears Of Flowers and the world premiere of Cui Quan's Southern Wind, showcasing the full gamut of dizi and shakuhachi technique with consummate mastery and effortless ease.

The audience could be excused for feeling breathless on Zhang's behalf.

 

John Williams. The Music Makers, Orchestra of the Music Makers, Esplanade Concert Hall, Aug 12

Edward Elgar's cantata The Music Makers was given its Singapore premiere by the appropriately named Orchestra of the Music Makers led by Chan Tze Law.

Movers and shakers of the independent orchestral scene, the young ensemble got its name from this work's title, which appears in the first line of Arthur O'Shaughnessy's Ode.

Joined by 200 singers from Singapore and Taiwan, the spine-tingling performance had the strong sense of living out its credo to "carry on dreaming".

WORST

Spectrum - Seeds, Schola Cantorum Singapore Chamber Choir/Albert Tay, Esplanade Recital Studio, March 5

I have no issues at all with a conductor who takes the trouble to introduce unusual music to the audience. But when Albert Tay took to the microphone, he simply could not put it down.

Even when his Schola Cantorum Chamber Choir managed to inject some musical matter into this concert, he continued to hog the limelight.

Marc Rochester

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Classical Concerts'. Print Edition | Subscribe