Lachrymae for sextet
(South China Morning Post)
Group founded by Pierre Boulez make Hong Kong debut with concert of seven contrasting works spanning over a century, including one inspired by 2015 axing of four Mid-Levels banyan trees
The Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain, purveyors of fine European modernism for more than four decades, finally made it to Hong Kong on Sunday evening at the City Hall Concert Hall. Better late than never, though their long-delayed debut resulted in a backlog of more than a century of sonic exploration packed into an extensive two-and-a-half-hour programme.
Appearing under the banner of the New Vision Arts Festival, the Ensemble led with the “new”, with most of the music before intermission hailing from the 21st century.
Charles Kwong’s Lachrymae, the ink barely dry from its premiere in last summer’s soundSCAPE Festival in Tuscany, was both the most recent work and the winner of the Ensemble’s “call for scores” initiative among Hong Kong composers.
Lachrymae, as Kwong noted in an elaborate programme description, was inspired by the chopping down in 2015 of four mature banyan trees in Bonham Road, Mid-Levels, that the government considered a threat to public safety. Shimmering colours unfolded from a six-piece ensemble. Extended harmonies and melodic fragments pointed one direction, then veered in another. Did this signify twisting roots and branches? A listener would be hard pressed for a definite answer, though it was easy enough to fit the pictorial sounds to a narrative of one’s own.