City Hall Friday June 11st, 2010.
It was very difficult not to be drawn into the world sculpted by Giovanni Sollima’s sound.
The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, led by Jean Thorel, performed an all- Italian programme to a half-filled but very appreciative audience.
Respighi’s Ancient Airs & Dances Suite No. 3 and Puccini’s Crisantemi started the first and second half of the concert respectively. The heavy-handed treatment of Jean Thorel in these two pieces resulted in very different effects. While the extreme handling made the Ancient Airs & Dances Suite No. 3 sound more like a parody rather than a Renaissance and early Baroque-inspired composition, it brought a devastatingly beautiful effect to Crisantemi. Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums) was composed as an elegy as it refers to the Italian funeral flower; and here, it was phrased affectionately and dramatically.
The above numbers were followed by Boccherini’s Cello Concerto No. 3 in G major and Sollima’s own L.B. Files for Cello & Ensemble. Needless to say, both pieces took on Sollima’s personality instantaneously. I suspect that purists would have frowned on the way the Boccherini was performed; but to me, it was invigorating. Sollima injected so much of his passion and enthusiasm into the work that while it may be idiosyncratic, it was gorgeously potent.
Sollima’s L.B. Files for Cello & Ensemble is a four-part micro-dramatization on the life of Luigi Boccherini. Here, Sollima shone as a composer and a soloist. Each part was shaped with distinctive textures and remarkable colors to represent the different aspects of Boccherini’s life. The 2nd part, Igiul, was especially simple and hauntingly affecting.
Sollima brought the house down and then followed with three non-Italian encore pieces, of which Jimi Hendrix’s Sugar was one of them. The audience was absolutely ecstatic.