The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s season opener with Yo-Yo Ma was like experiencing the joy of rediscovering familiarity, with Georges Bizet’s only symphony, the delightful Symphony in C, segueing into the thoughtfully beautiful Silent Woods by Antonín Dvořák and then Zhao Lin’s Duo, pitting cello and sheng in contemplative harmony. Symphony in C, performed under the conductorship of Principal Guest Conductor Yu Long, is an absolute gem. The symphony’s four movements reveal Bizet’s remarkable maturity and genius at just 17 years old when he composed the work. Ma’s soulful cello is deafeningly tranquil in Silent Woods, with intense passion smouldering in haunting notes that linger long after the
performance has ended. Ma then communicates cultural connections in Duo with Wu Tong on sheng, a traditional Chinese wind instrument. The work, inspired by the classic Chinese story of the Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions, is a confluence of cinematic emotion that has, at its heart, the comforting contrast of Ma’s cello and Wu’s sheng transporting the audience on a reawakening of the senses.