Christmas with the Hong Kong Philharmonic

Concerto in E flat for Trumpet and Strings
Exsultate jubilate, K165
A Little Jazz Mass [arr. Ng Cheuk Yin]
Angels’ Carol
Leroy Anderson
Sleigh Ride
A Jingle Bell Christmas [arr. Ng Cheuk Yin]

Jonathan Clarke (trumpet)

Heidi Stober (soprano)

Hong Kong Children’s Choir

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
John Harding

Reviewed by: Jonathan Mok

Reviewed: 24 December, 2007
Venue: Cultural Centre, Hong Kong

Each year, the Hong Kong Philharmonic organises a Christmas concert. This year the featured soloists were the orchestra’s principal trumpet Jonathan Clarke and American soprano Heidi Stober. Also contributing was the Hong Kong Children’s Choir.

The concert opened with a Trumpet Concerto by Johann Baptiste Georg Neruda (1711-1776), a Czech composer who moved to Dresden in 1750. Clarke phrased with due sensitivity to the work of his colleagues in the orchestra, employing his strong technique and neither imposing his own ego nor merely playing the notes.

Next came Bob Chilcott’s “A Little Jazz Mass” for choir and orchestra, which consists of five movements embracing a variety of jazz styles, from blues to jazz-rock fusion. Members of the orchestra seemed to have no problem in adjusting to this ‘crossover’ style. Chilcott’s work also fitted in well with the following items, Rutter’s “Angels’ Carol” and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride.

However, it seemed a poor decision to ask Heidi Stober to show off her beautiful voice by singing Mozart’s “Exsultate jubilate”. According to her website, apart from Handel’s “Messiah”, Stober’s repertoire does not include this work. It would be right to expect that an opera-singer would be invited to sing repertoire she is familiar with. Not so here. The final struggle between oboes, horns and voice merely left the impression that Stober was second-class.

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