R E V I E W S  &  A R T I C L E S

Britten Piano Concerto, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Stephen Whittington, Adelaide Advertiser

20 August 2006


This concert of relatively unfamiliar music had a number of ingredients that made it a success. The music was colourful and varied. Britten's Piano Concerto has drama, humour, virtuosity and even a touch of the bizarre. Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony upends symphonic conventions in an original fashion, while making brilliant use of the orchestra. Conductor Arvo Volmer had a firm grip on the music and inspired his players to an admirable level of performance. In the Britten concerto we were fortunate to have pianist Kristian Chong as soloist. Brimming with confidence and a technique to match, he made a convincing case for this piece as a brilliant, if unconventional, concerto.

Almost symphonic in form and scope, it places considerable demands on the player. Britten was apparently enamoured with the glissando, which he uses with unparalleled frequency, with the consequent danger of the pianist rubbing his knuckles raw. Chong's performance was polished, very musical and he left no blood on the keys. Unusually, the performance was followed by an encore for piano and orchestra by Britten, with obligatory glissandi.