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So it’s bravo for all things Italian

Bradley Winterton
Friday,  Nov 10,2017,20:24 (GMT+7)
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So it’s bravo for all things Italian

Bradley Winterton

An Italian music concert under the baton of conductor/Meritorious Artist Tran Vuong Thach takes place at the Opera House in HCMC’s District 1 on November 8 - PHOTO: HBSO

The HBSO’s evening of Italian music on Wednesday was a delight from start to finish. This isn’t to say there weren’t some highlights, however.

I wondered when I previewed this concert what Pham Vinh would make of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No: 1, and remembered that when he played Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in Saigon he made what could seem over-sweet vigorous and incisive. I should have known that the opposite would be true this time.

Paganini’s concerto is nothing if not incisive, and vigorous, and Pham Vinh made it – I should have guessed! – lyrical and almost sweet. The audience responded rapturously, as indeed they should have. Pham Vinh, for his part, then gave us an encore that made the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end!

Pham Vinh is an unusual performer. His on-stage presence is unconventional. Wearing an open-necked black shirt, often holding his violin before playing only with his chin, and pacing about before his turn came to play, he seemed the sensitive and individual artist par excellence. That he is, in addition, a genius was clear.

The second half of the evening was devoted to extracts from famous Italian operas, some sung by a chorus, some by soloists.

The star of this half of the event was undoubtedly Dao Mac. He sang a celebrated aria from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), ‘Largo al factotum’. He was in superb voice. He’s recently returned from a trip to Germany where he received some coaching, and the effect on his voice seems to have been exceptional. Maybe they taught him to relax and sing from the diaphragm, but anyway his performance on Wednesday was exemplary. He also displayed a zest and enthusiasm that added immensely to his rendition. If he continues to sing like this, he could well have an international career ahead of him.

Among the other male soloists we were also privileged to hear the tenor Ta Minh Tam, firstly singing ‘La donna e mobile’ (Women are fickle) from Rigoletto with considerable aplomb, then with soprano Cho Hae Ryong in the lyrical and intensely moving duet that concludes the first act of La Boheme.

All in all, this was a splendid evening. The gorgeous costumes provided for the solo vocalists may not have been strictly necessary, and were certainly in marked contrast to Pham Vinh’s laid-back attire. But they suited the opera house ambiance, and in general marked this out as a superb evening indeed-something which the musical performances had, of course, already made clear.

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