Ulsan Metropolitan City
Ulsan Philharmonic Orchestra
Hong-jae Kim, Conductor
(Hong-jae Kim Bio)
Vladimir Dyo, Violin
(Vladimir Dyo Web Page)
Sumi Jo, Soprano
(Sumi Jo Website)
JH Arts Corporation
The Korea-Daily New York
Hudson Fine Art Foundation
Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 25, 2015
Sung-hwan Choi: Arirang Fantasy.
Pablo De Sarasate (1844-1908): “Carmen” Fantasy, Op. 25,
w. Vladimir Dyo, violin.
Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835): “Qui la voce sua soave” from I Puritani,
w. Sumi Jo, soprano.
Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880): “Les oiseaux dans la charmille”, from Les Contes d’Hoffmann, w. Sumi Jo, soprano.
Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904): Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88.
What a wonderful surprise to learn about the Ulsan Philharmonic Orchestra tonight at Carnegie Hall, a powerful and very professional group of youthful, vibrant musicians. Maestro Hong-jae Kim led the eclectic and challenging program with mastery and poise. Sung-hwan Choi’s Arirang Fantasy was performed with sweeping lyricism, in an increasing volume. Strings echoed orchestral passages, before quietude resumed. But, once again, swirling, dancing refrains returned, within the yearning, celebratory melody. Many in the audience, from Korea, were especially moved, as the composer is from Korea. This is a piece I’d like to hear again, as it ended too soon.
For Pablo De Sarasate’s ”Carmen” Fantasy, Vladimir Dyo took the stage with his violin. Mr. Dyo is a faculty member and coordinator of chamber ensembles at the Boyer College of Music. He rose to the occasion tonight, with this very challenging violin solo, accompanied by the orchestra. The work is rambunctious and feverish, with sudden shifts from racing, raging tempos to near, surreal silence. Mr. Dyo performed with seasoned stage presence. The operatic themes are interwoven in the “Fantasy”, with rhythmic dervish, notes spinning faster than conceivable flamenco dance. The finale’s tonal flourish brought accolades from the Carnegie crowd.
Sumi Jo, soprano, took the stage for the next two works, arias from Bellini’s I Puritani and Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Ms. Jo wore an expansive, white sparkly gown, with a giant, pink ribbon, the enormity of which equaled the endless range of her vocal talent. In the Bellini, Ms. Jo’s vocals resonated throughout the Hall, and she occasionally held one note, shifting its tones, but never interrupting for a breath. Her personality was outsized, as well. For the Offenbach, Ms. Jo sang the aria of Ophelia, a mechanical doll, whose fabricator, Dr. Coppélius, winds her up when she bends over, as her vocals slow down. Tonight, Maestro Kim was Dr. Coppélius, who wound up Ms. Jo, whenever the aria slowed, as she bent over as the character, Ophelia. This was easily understood and comical, with orchestral “wind-up” effects. The staccato ecstasy and endlessly held notes entertained Ms. Jo’s multitude of fans. Soon Ms. Jo returned to the stage, in a new pink and green gown, and sang an encore, a Korean tune, dedicated to Ulsan and her Korean admirers.
For the Dvořák Symphony No. 8, Maestro Kim demonstrated the virtuosity and cohesion of this exemplary orchestra. The first movement, “Allegro con brio”, brought forth bucolic flutes in a majestic pulse. A cello solo, in a magnificent theme, was evocative of the composer’s Czechoslovakian homeland. The Ulsan Philharmonic Orchestra was immediately seen as sophisticated and international, as it presented this renowned symphony. Brisk, clear tempos resounded. The second movement, “Adagio”, opened with mysterious, dramatically-infused tones, in compelling phrases, evocative of filmatic scores. A driven, percussive pulse with nuanced textures ensued. The third movement, “Allegretto grazioso-Molto vivace”, included a waltz-like theme, evoking visions of a ballroom. The familiar theme resonated with rapture. A trumpet solo was eloquent. The final, fourth movement, “Allegro, ma non troppo”, built with rapid momentum, adding energized emotionality. A fiery, stormy finale completed this marvelous performance. A rhapsodic, Korean tune closed the evening. Kudos to Maestro Kim, Mr. Dyo, Ms. Jo, and the Ulsan Philharmonic Orchestra. It should be noted that the Mayor of Ulsan Metropolitan City, Gi-hyeon Kim, was in tonight’s audience, as he presented the conductor with a floral bouquet of gratitude.