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Music Director Jaap van Zweden and the HK Phil Open the 2019/20 Season
Source: Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

 The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil)’s new season gets underway with a powerful pair of concerts led by Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Each concert features the type of full-bodied Romantic works that have led this orchestra, under Jaap’s baton, to international recognition. Joining hands with the orchestra for this two-week gala are First Prize winner of the Chopin International Competition, Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho; and Gramophone Classical Music Award’s Solo Vocal award winner, German baritone Stephen Genz.


Season Opening: JAAP | Seong-Jin Cho (6 & 7 September) features Rachmaninov’s thrilling Piano Concerto no. 2, a perennial audience favourite that is sure to be especially electrifying in the hands of Korean phenomSeong-Jin Cho.



“…this (2015) Chopin Competition winner [Seong-Jin Cho] can stand proud next to the likes of such illustrious past winners as Pollini, Argerich and Zimerman”

--- Pianist



The concert opens with the Prelude to Act 1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Wagner—a composer now nearly synonymous with the HK Phil following Jaap’s triumphant four-year performance and recording project of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which won the HK Phil aGramophone nomination for 2019 Orchestra of the Year. 


The programme will conclude with selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, the dramatic ballet score the composer intended to reach “the hearts of all listeners” on its own merits regardless of dance and theatrical elements.


Title Sponsor of Opening Night Concert on 6 September 2019: United Overseas Bank




The second week of these opening concerts, JAAP | Symphonie Fantastique (13 & 14 September) reflects the height of Romanticism with works by Brahms, Mahler and Berlioz. The concert begins with Brahms’ elegant and joyful Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn—although not actually based on a theme by Haydn, unbeknownst to Brahms.  


This is followed by two autobiographical musical works defined by unrequited love—Mahler’s Lieder Eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique. Mahler’s song cycle was written in the wake of his unhappy love for a famous soprano. The piece has four movements based on lyrics by Mahler himself and follows a path of grief, joy, despair and solace. Internationally recognised German baritone Stephen Genz, known for his excellence in lied repertoire, will sing the highly expressive texts with “moving artistry and great intensity”.


Closing the programme is Berlioz’ Episode de la vie d’un artiste (An Episode in the Life of an Artist), best known asSymphonie fantastique. The five movements of this “Fantastical Symphony” each depict a dreamlike, opium-induced episode in an artist’s life (likely Berlioz’s) who is driven mad by failed love. The piece was inspired by Berlioz’s ill-fated passion for the Irish-born actress Harriet Smithson. The work is grand, progressive and wild.



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