Beethoven’s Fifth, 28th Sept 2014 (Review)

Penang Philharmonic Orchestra

Firstly, I must apologize for not having better pictures in this post. There is a valid reason. (Photography and Videography are not allowed. No iPad either.)

Truthfully, I did not know what to expect. So I went without any expectations. I’ve not attended many concerts because I tend to be very picky. It’s either the pianist, the conductor, the orchestra or the music piece itself that would draw me in.

I jumped at the chance when I saw the flyer. It caught my attention immediately. Never mind the fact that I’ve not heard of the conductor Chan Tze Law and pianist Professor Albert Tiu, I immediately paid for the RM60 ticket. I had to listen to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 . If there’s a piano concerto that I so love, it would be that one by Sergei Rachmaninoff. I know the music by heart because I’ve listened to it since I was in my early teens. They could play an excerpt from that concerto and I could name it. So, being able to see (and hear) it live, was going to be an experience I would not forget.

The first piece performed by the orchestra was Rossini’s Overture from “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”. I had not warmed up to their performance yet in the first piece. I know they’re not paid professionals but still, what a performance. (The violas sounded a bit murky in some of the parts but that means there’s room for improvement.)

The highlight of the concert was when (Prof) Albert Tiu played Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto. While I enjoyed sitting up at the higher rows where the view is very good, I would’ve loved to be able to see (clearly) how fast his fingers move. I am very impressed. Why I like Rachmaninoff’s music is because they touch my heart and I feel that one has to be hard and soft in order to bring out the colour, which I think he did,…very well. He played The Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky for the encore. By the way, that’s a new Steinway grand piano. Thank you to PPO for investing in that beautiful instrument.

I also must salute the musicians in the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra who must have worked really really hard. I think they did very well too. I’m not saying that they’re perfect but they’ve won me over with this piece that they performed very well. In the second movement, I felt teary-eyed because I’ve always dreamed of seeing the local orchestra rise up and take up the challenge by playing the more demanding pieces. I wasn’t satisfied with just a mixture of short orchestral music pieces, filling up the hour. I want meat, and steak. Today, I must say, God has answered my prayers, although that prayer was spoken by my heart more than 2 decades ago.

The last piece was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Again, I praise the orchestra members – both young and old. Keep up the good work. Rise up!

Before I forget, I have to mention that the conductor (Chan Tze Law) too,  plays a very important role in getting everyone to play together. Not an easy task and obviously he did well to be able to bring out their best, as a team. There’s an encore too, though I’m not sure what piece it was.

I didn’t regret attending the concert and I already know that I will be attending more concerts by the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra.

Take note of the next one if you missed it this time around.

3 May 2015. Beethoven Cycle. (Eroica) – Rossini’s Overture from La Gazza Ladra, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica” (Chan Tze Law and Albert Tiu).



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