Homepage List Fascinating Liszt and Poetic Elgar

19. Fascinating Liszt and Poetic Elgar

The Piano Concerto No.2 in A Major, S125 of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was played by Thibaudet as the soloist and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart in the concert on September 11, 2009 at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. Liszt, regarded as the national hero of Hungary, besides known as a supreme master in piano playing, was a very leading and innovative composer as well. He had a great tendency to abandon the traditional form of music, the "symphony", and created a new form, the one-movement "symphonic poem", to replace it, thus influencing more than one generation of music composition. As a pianist, he had no equal, and as a composer he suggested to a younger generation of musicians the new course that music was to take. His two piano concertos are also innovative in that each contains a single movement instead of three as usual in traditional concertos. His Piano Concerto No.2 is fascinatingly charming while the soloist Thibaudet in this concert had an excellent mastery of the piano as well.

The Symphony No.2 in E Flat Major, Op.63 of the English composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was the music played by the Orchestra in the second part of the concert. Elgar, highly esteemed by the English people as their "Shakespeare in music", is famous for his orchestral works such as the Violin Concerto, the Cello Concerto and the two symphonies. His Symphony No.2, one of my most favourite symphonies, is poetic in nature and, as a matter of fact, inspired by Shelley's poem "Rarely, rarely comest thou, Spirit of Delight". In his own words, Elgar suggested that "to get near the mood of the Symphony the whole of Shelley's poem may be read, but the music does not illustrate the whole of the poem, neither does the poem entirely elucidate the music. The spirit of the whole work is intended to be of high and pure joy: there are retrospective passages of sadness but the whole of the sorrow is smoothed out and ennobled in the last movement. The germ of the work is the opening bars." It took four months for Elgar to complete the Symphony and it was premiered in London, conducted by the composer, on May 24, 1911. The performance of Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart in this concert, as usual in its many previous concerts, did not fail the confidence of the audience and gave an interpretation of the music outstandingly.

(Written on November 3, 2009)