The 12th SPH Gift of Music series kicked off yesterday with a performance by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of associate conductor Joshua Tan a the Victoria Concert Hall. I arrived half an hour early and the queue was already very long; it was no surprise that 673 seats were filled up very quickly.
The theme for yesterday’s concert was Hope, consisting of music that inspires us for the pleasant time ahead. This is of essence in today’s society.
The pieces performed include
La Cenerentoia Overture by Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868), a version of the Cinderella story which opens with a slow introduction, then moves into a more lively and charming style. The strings section did a marvellous job. The crescendo is elegantly executed and the piece ends with an exuberance that is a hallmarak of Rossini.
Russian Easter Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 – 1908), a bright and charming piece that is reminiscent of ancient prophecy, a gospel story and a chorus of heavenly angels. The delivery is so impressive that it is good enough to play the soundtrack of a big-budget (Hollywood) movie. (After all, the SSO does have a number of CD recodings to its credit and it has performed to resounding success overseas.)
Night On The Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881), arranged by Rimsky-Korsakov, is about witches, demons and other creatures of the night gathering for a night of dark revelry on an isolated mountain. The earlier parts of the music is somewhat crude and savage, depicting the demonic event but a chorus is added which smooths out the orchestration and the ending is changed to a tranquil and peaceful one as dawn breaks through. This piece is featured in the Disney movie, Fantasia.
The Force Awakens Suite by John Williams (b. 1932); This is music written for the Star Wars/Luke Skywalker saga. The four movements in this suite infuse classical structure into the soundscape. The first, March Of The Resistance, is Shostakovich-ian and grim-faced, with leaps and soars. The second, Rey’s Theme, is a scintillating and virtuosic fugue. The third, Scherzo for X-Wings, is like an assault and introduces a new theme in the coda, the mysterious fourth movement that is at times menacing, breathless and exhilarating. The conclusion is nothing short of majestic.
All the musicians were exemplary, but I was most impressed with the concertmaster/first violinst and the principal cellist. Jason Tan’s gestures were concise and precise. This was a performance worth skipping lunch for. And I look forward to more.