After a first taste with the MPO (Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra), you will find yourself being drawn to go back and second time, a third and maybe more. It so happened that my eldest sis was in town when the MPO was playing Beethoven 5th featuring conductor Roberto Abbado and having heard her play Beethoven growing up in our living room while she was still learning the piano, I knew that she would be in for a treat with this show last week.
We opt for the Friday night show at 8.30pm and I was pleasantly surprised that the hall was quite filled. As usual, we need to be there early to pick up our passes from the box office and to be seated in the hall 15 minutes before the concert starts.
I was quite thrilled to watch acclaimed conductor Roberto Abbado for the first time. Roberto is well known as a passionate interpreter of modern and contemporary music, which explained why he had chosen the pretty new work composed by Giorgio Battistelli from 2012 entitled the Mystery Play and frame it with Hadyn 93rd and Beethoven 5th as the finale. By the way, he is always well known for his work in opera, leading operas world wide and even made recordings under BMG amongst others. If you had wondered whether he won any awards before, yes he did, in 2009 when he was honoured the Franco Abbiati Prize by the National Association of Italian Music Critics as Conductor of the Year.
Back to the concert, Roberto took command of the orchestra with full charisma and animation, sometimes leaving us breathless and astounded with every move of the baton. The concert opened with Hadyn Symphony No. 93 in D with a slow introduction and steadily, frequently going to the softest on the violin before dramatically increasing the volume with impact. The tempo became faster and ended with much excitement before moving into the second movement which goes a little faster very gracefully with a solo string quartet. As expected the third movement in Minuet went a little faster and had moments of timpani and strings side by side creating a sort of fanfare, surprisingly something I could dance to. The fourth movement and finale marks the characteristic inventiveness of Hadyn, bringing in the oboe and double bass to the forefront, in lighthearted mood with grandeur to mark the end.
The second piece was by Giorgio Battistelli, being the fairly new composer from our times with the Mystery Play. Ok, this is definitely soundtrack fit for a horror movie, I had my goosebumps raised from beginning and my heart racing fast, even though the music was slow. The reason being, it is music filled with mystery, terror and the unknown lying ahead. I had the picture of a girl racing through the woods, being chased by something not of this world, dark and foreboding, tripping on the tree roots, falling, bleeding and more. That was the image that played in my head while listening to the Mystery Play, which was actually awesome yet left me aghast, such a masterpiece, I kept thinking, what a genius to compose this that triggered such emotions, no picture, just music alone. With much adrenaline running through the veins, we break for 20 min after nearly an hour of concert.
The MPO then closed the concerts with Beethoven’s world famous Symphony No.5 in C minor, written in 1807 and premiered in Vienna a year later. Whether or not you love Beethoven or the classics, you would have heard of this composition, well overused in many industries, movies and advertising jingles. It was an intense performance, high energy and perfect to end the beautiful night. As well known as it was, it still managed to leave the audience in the DFP hall as if gasping for breath from the emotional impact. Nearly every instrument was richly used in this piece with four movements, piccolo, contrabassoon, trombone, and the double bass playing several major roles. It was a triumphant ending to a mysterious evening, continuing the story perfectly from the Mystery Play, as if the good had won over the evil and the world did not end after all. What a way to pick the right pieces and framing them perfectly one to another. The world sure need a lot of triumph for now.
Box Office Hours
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 10.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m., 9.00 p.m. on performance nights
Sundays: 12.00 noon to performance time (Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays except when there is a scheduled performance)
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