New work in Saigon
By Bradley Winterton in HCMC
Last Friday saw two new compositions given their world premieres in Saigon Opera House, and another performed for only the third time. All were played by the HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra (HBSO) under visiting maestro Colin Metters.
|Artists of HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra in a performance at the HCMC Opera House - Photo: Courtesy of HBSO|
The program opened with Beethoven’s overture to his opera Fidelio. Then we heard the first of the new items, Nguyen Manh Duy Linh’s Lost in Dream for vibraphone and string orchestra. Nguyen Nang Quang playing the vibraphone didn’t have a lot to do, but the piece as a whole was delightful -harmonious and soothing in a late-Romantic style. The more we hear from Nguyen Manh Duy Linh the better.
Then came Vu Viet Anh’s Sand Dunes for piano, percussion and string orchestra, followed by Piercing The Vault for oboe and symphony orchestra by New Zealand composer Michael Williams (solo oboe Do Kien Cuong). The three works had something in common. They all lasted around ten minutes, and they all displayed great promise rather than substantial achievement. That said, however, they all were enjoyable in a way that can’t always be relied on with contemporary compositions.
After the intermission the orchestra played Elgar’s familiar and much-loved Enigma Variations. This seemed to me a muted reading – I had enjoyed the piece more when I heard the HBSO play it in the Saigon Conservatory two years ago. But this may have been the result of the relative acoustics of the two halls. It was hard to tell.
The size of the audience was respectable but not huge. Some patrons, perhaps, were saving themselves for the outstanding modern ballet Dream Puzzles, with choreography by Nguyen Phuc Hai and Nguyen Phuc Hung, which, following some contemporary chamber music, will be performed again on Monday July 9, also in the Opera House. The premiere of this excellent work was reviewed in Saigon Times on April 12.