Sir James Galway is undoubtedly one of the most famous flautists in the world. Since leaving the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and starting his solo career in 1975, Galway has accumulated a discography of over 65 CDs that goes far beyond classical music and into popular and soundtrack music. And with over 30 million of his albums sold, it’s no wonder that City Hall was packed for the first of two concerts with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong.
Mozart dominated the evening that opened with the Flute Concerto No 2 in D, K.314. Unlike his first concerto, the second was an adaptation of Mozart’s Oboe Concerto. Galway, doubling as the conductor, set a tempo that was a tad slow, thus failing to give the first movement the kick it ought to have. This, however, was beautifully offset by the awe-inspiring cadenza at the end. The second and third movements found a more suitable pace, with the orchestra also sounding more confident. Throughout, Galway played with a clear golden tone that shaped the most pleasing phrases. Mozart’s Symphony No 29 in A, K201, one of his better known early symphonies, followed. In the first two movements, Galway took an expansive view that slightly bordered lethargic. Despite this, the CCOHK responded most eloquently, with humour in the Minuet and with panache in the finale.
Arranged by David Overton especially for Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway, The Magic Flutes opened the second half. The three-movement suite consists of snippets of Mozart melodies expertly and amusingly woven together, was delightfully played. Augmenting a rather short second half were a series of encores that included Mozart’s Ronda alla turca (for two flutes), two Irish traditional – Brian Boru’s March and Danny Boy/Londonderry Air; and Bach’s Badinerie (Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor final movement). Overall, the performance was very well received and showed Galway’s technical brilliance and superb showmanship remained impeccable.
Satoshi Kyo, TimeOut