The Four Orchestral Moods

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with Zhang Haochen


By Marion Ang

Featuring Soloist Zhang Haochen and conducted by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO)’s Finnish Principal Guest Conductor Okka Kamu, The Four Temperaments celebrates Carl Nielson’s most popular and best loved piano concerto – the Symphony No.2.

The concert began with a rousing performance by the orchestra’s brass chorales and string counterparts, ringing out Concert Music for Strings and Brass by 20th Century German composer Hindemith. With the lack of any woodwind or percussion parts, a combination of sweet melodies and melodic fragments were weaved into this modified piece.

After winning the First Prize at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, Zhang Haochen, 22 and rising pianist had accomplished much more than any other ordinary student of his age. As he continues to astonish the world with his amazing talent and deep understanding of music, it is not surprise that the Boston Globe recently hailed him as ‘the pianist with ample reserve of power’.

Zhang Haochen performed the second performance, Rachmininov’s Second Piano Concerto No. 2. With great passion and emotion, Zhang’s nimble fingers produced a beautifully heart-wrenching melody that was written by one of the last great representatives of the Romanticism era. This performance was definitely the highlight of the night.

Closing the night was an enthralling performance of Carl Nelsen’s Symphony No. 2, conducted by SSO’s Finnish Principal Guest Conductor Okko Kamu. With its four varied movements, the orchestra played out the different colours of the Four Temperaments, beginning with a rugged and aggressive Choleric, followed by Phlegmatic, and slowing it down with Melancholic, in which it ended with a Sanguine ending of joyous vigour. This 2-hour concert ended on a high note with the audience leaving the hall exulting about this young and vibrant pianist.


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