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Rachel Barton Pine and City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong are in sumptuous form / South China Morning Post review

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The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong under star guest conductor Andrew Sewell was in sumptuous form for last Friday's concert, which was noted for its variety and innovation. Similarities and disparities marked the programme, with repertoire spanning from the baroque and postmodern minimalism. A firebrand of a composer in his youth, Henry Cowell later adopted a much more conventional outlook, as in the programme-opening Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 10, which is lushly scored for strings and oboe. Soloist Leanne Nicholls' creamy tone blended beautifully to create delicate, melancholy dissonances, albeit swamped at times by the violas.

An ear-tickling six-note chord opened Vivaldi's Concerto for Viola d'amore, a long-obsolete instrument with seven gut strings, drones beneath the fingerboard adding resonance to the sound. Given soloist Rachel Barton Pine's gentle persuasion, who could fail to love the piece? Its primary significance, however, would be as a foil to the music of Vivaldi's magisterial contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach, whose great Concerto for Violin in A minor and Concerto for Two Violins in D minor provided the meat of the recital. Virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine, ahead of Hong Kong debut, on being a hard-up kid with an obsession to master the strings.  READ THE FULL South China Morning Post REVIEW