Hong Kong Philharmonic play Beethoven and Dvořák

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15 Concert Package, SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15 and Orchestral Music

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Symphony Hall

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra Jaap van Zweden conductor Ning Feng violin

Fung Lam Quintessence 11’
Beethoven Violin Concerto 42’
Dvořák Symphony No 9, From the New World 40’

Ning Feng’s encore – Paganini – Caprice No. 7

Hong Kong Philharmonic’s encores – Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries, Dvořák – Slavonic Dance No.8


The Hong Kong Philharmonic is one of China’s most established orchestras, and under music director Jaap van Zweden it’s been called ‘the Berlin Philharmonic of Asia’. Dvořák’s much loved New World Symphony and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (with the award-winning Ning Feng) provide a wonderfully enjoyable showcase. Plus, there’s the chance to hear Quintessence, the new piece by orchestra’s 35-year-old resident composer Fung Lam, which received its World Premiere in London in June 2014 (read a Financial Times review of the concert here). Classic FM’s John Suchet says:

Now celebrating their 41st professional season, this is a fantastic opportunity to hear the esteemed Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra play one of the most popular symphonies of all time, Dvořák’s New World Symphony, along with the only concerto ever written for violin by one of the defining figures in the history of Western music: Ludwig van Beethoven.



Review by Sam Chipman, ThePublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “The great Leonard Bernstein himself encouraged Dutch born Jaap van Zweden to conduct, and he does so with such vigour. He tactfully directs his orchestra as they play a rousing rendition of the famous symphony. Where the concerto lacks in drama, this piece does not. It is a very brash and dark interpretation of the famous symphony played with great attack. The woodwind section are excellent throughout the Largo, with the Cor Anglais solo really adding to the dark undertone of the playing. When the strings swell it is almost euphoric, so delightful is the tone and harmony, particularly at the opening of the Adagio. The Allegro con fuoco sees the return of the memorable themes to end the evening with a flourish. Rousing work from the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden.

Breath-taking in parts, with a slight stumble in others. The Dvořák is played magnificently, but the Beethoven a little lacking – but the tuneful 9th Symphony will leave you feeling energised as you exit the auditorium.”


Review by Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “And yet, Lam doesn’t really draw on this orchestra’s greatest strengths. The opening bars of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony laid those out unmistakably: a rich, focussed and gloriously warm-sounding string section, phrasing and moving together, plus as characterful and expressive a woodwind and horn team as you could hope to find anywhere in Bohemia.

Conductor Jaap van Zweden shaped a brisk but intensely lyrical performance – with long, singing lines that gave a really epic sense of sweep, notwithstanding van Zweden’s tendency to micromanage phrase endings and tempo changes. The whispered string phrases that underscored Kwan Sheung-fung’s plangent cor anglais solo in the Largo were wonderfully expressive and tender.

The sheer beauty of the orchestral sound was also the most enjoyable aspect of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with Ning Feng as soloist.”     …