Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES - Eastern Promise

Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES - Eastern Promise

Article excerpt

The Singapore Symphony Orchestrais like a teenage athlete just about to hit peak form. This could be one of the great orchestras of the 21st century. So could its rival, the Malaysian Philharmonic.

We all know that Asia produces dazzling soloists. But orchestras?

I was sceptical until I heard the Singaporeans at the Southbank Centre this month. Accompanying Stephen Hough in Mendelssohn's First Piano Concerto, they matched his virtuosity with their bouncy brio. The conductor, Lan Shui (above), had the sect ion s swaying like stalks in a gale in Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead and Debussy's La Mer. The encores :

Bern stein's Candide overture, taken at a lick that would have raised even Lenny's eyebrows, and Stokowsk i's arrangement of Air on a G String.

Rarely has Bach been mucked about with so classily : grave purity from the upper strings, that trademark joyful bounce from plucked basses. …

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