去年第 46 屆香港藝術節的反應稍遜，未能吸引優秀及著名的演奏家來港演出。所幸的是，第 47 屆香港藝術節將邀來眾多大名鼎鼎的音樂家蒞臨演出，場面定必星光熠熠。以下介紹三個我認為最引人入勝的音樂表演節目。
1. 帕佛．約菲與 NHK 交響樂團
（2019 年 2 月 28 日；香港文化中心音樂廳）
古典音樂總被視為歐洲文化藝術，香港人也經常認為歐洲管弦樂團遠遠優於亞洲樂團。這絕非刻板定型，而是客觀事實。任何一個聽力正常的人都能分辨出柏林愛樂及維也納愛樂樂團，與亞洲的專業樂團演出質素的差異。然而，凡事總有例外 —— 日本 NHK 交響樂團絕對能令亞洲音樂界引以為榮，是唯一可以媲美歐洲頂級交響樂團的亞洲樂團。團內的日本樂手對其工作的奉獻、對於表演的誠意、對完美的堅持及對古典音樂傳統的崇敬，在亞洲都是無與倫比的。事實上，樂團一直得到眾多著名指揮家青睞，如薩瓦利希、布隆斯泰特、杜特華與普列文等，能吸引如此多知名指揮家的亞洲樂團可謂絕無僅有。於 2019 年香港藝術節，NHK 交響樂團將為香港觀眾帶來一場聽覺盛宴：觀眾除了有機會看赫赫有名的指揮帕佛．約菲外，也能欣賞兩部甚少在香港演出的作品 —— 日本大師武滿徹的「風多麼緩慢（How Slow the Wind）」以及普羅科菲耶夫那神秘及發人深省的「降 E 小調第六交響曲」，絕對不容錯過。
（2019 年 2 月 21-22 日；香港文化中心音樂廳）
就如上文所講，古典音樂恍如歐洲文化的同義詞，而這次香港藝術節竟邀來南美洲旗艦樂團 —— 聖保羅交響樂團，促成了他們首次在亞洲的演出。提起森巴文化，相信不少香港人立刻會想到享負盛名的巴西國家足球隊，既在球壇為國增光，同時也孕育了不少國際球星。然而，人們或許不知道，巴西在 20 世紀也曾出產多名成就顯著的古典音樂作曲家，包括甚具影響力的魏拉－羅伯斯與卡馬戈．瓜尼埃里，而聖保羅交響樂團將於 2019 年第 47 屆香港藝術節中演奏他們的作品。這兩位作曲家不單不甘遵從歐洲音樂傳統，他們更糅合巴西印象派元素，創造出別樹一格、與別不同的音樂。這場音樂會絕對會為香港觀眾帶來嶄新體驗，樂團除了演出南美洲的古典音樂外，節目也涵蓋了帕格尼尼、普羅科菲耶夫、理察．史特勞斯、林姆斯基－高沙可夫及伯恩斯坦的經典作品，而樂隊指揮將會是瑪琳．艾爾梭。艾爾梭作為極少數的女指揮家，在音樂領域上獨當一面：作為這一代首位於大型管弦樂團（巴爾的摩交響樂團）擔任音樂總監的女性，她也是首位在英國逍遙音樂節中，負責指揮著名的 Last Night of the Proms 音樂會的女指揮。這兩場由聖保羅交響樂團演出的演奏會，配合國際首屈一指的女指揮震撼人心的技藝，肯定會成就香港管弦樂歷史性的一刻。
（2019 年 3 月 7 日；香港大會堂音樂廳）
對我而言，世上沒有人比馬祖耶夫更能出色地演繹俄羅斯及蘇聯的鋼琴作品。自 1998 年馬祖耶夫以 23 歲之齡贏得第 11 屆柴可夫斯基國際音樂比賽後，他旋即成為古典音樂界內備受矚目的卓越鋼琴家之一。馬祖耶夫的演奏總是引人注目與充滿權威的，而他更能展示聰慧的技巧與控制。由他來演繹拉赫曼尼諾夫與普羅科菲耶夫的作品，總是充滿說服力的（事實上，他被拉赫曼尼諾夫的孫子邀請成為拉赫曼尼諾夫基金會的藝術總監），而他與殿堂級指揮大師格吉耶夫更可以說是古典音樂界中最好的合作夥伴。這次演奏會中，馬祖耶夫會為觀眾帶來柴可夫斯基三首刻骨銘心的作品，包括「季節」、「冥想曲」及「G 大調鋼琴奏鳴曲」。看完這場音樂會後，你只可能會有三種反應：印象極為深刻、情感深受觸動，以及對馬祖耶夫優雅的琴聲與超凡的技術歎為觀止！
Highlights of Hong Kong’s 47th Arts Festival in 2019
The 46th Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) in 2018 was largely a subdued event, having failed to attract notable and preeminent performers to our city. However, it was a relief to find out that the 47th Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2019 will be star-studded with big-name performers. Below are my three picks of the Festival’s most appealing and exciting performances.
1. Paavo Järvi with the NHK Symphony Orchestra
(28 February 2019, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall)
Classical music has always been seen as an European art and Hong Kongers are always under the perception that European orchestras are far superior than their Asian counterparts. This is not stereotype, because this is the plain truth. Anyone with a pair of ears would never fail to recognise the differences in standard and performance quality between the European jewels of Berlin/Vienna Philharmonics and the professional orchestras in Asia. Nonetheless, there’s always an exception in everything. The Japanese NHK Symphony Orchestra is the pride of our continent, and is the only Asian ensemble that could rival the perfection of the leading European orchestras. The Japanese musicians’ dedication to their work, sincerity in their performance, persistence for perfection and reverence to the classical music tradition are all unparalleled in Asia. Indeed, the orchestra has been fine-tuned by numerous eminent conductors throughout its history, from Wolfgang Sawallisch, to Herbert Blomstedt, to Charles Dutoit and to André Previn, just to name a few; no other Asian orchestra has been able to attract as many acclaimed conductors as this Japanese orchestra. The NHK Symphony Orchestra’s performance at HKAF 2019 will be a treat to the Hong Kongers: the opportunity to see Paavo Järvi, one of the world’s most notable conductors, in action, as well as to listen to two works that are rarely performed in Hong Kong – How Slow the Wind by the Japanese grandmaster Toru Takemitsu and Sergei Prokofiev’s enigmatic, sphinx-like and breathtaking Sixth Symphony – are not to be missed.
2. Marin Alsop with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
(21-22 February 2019, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall)
As I mentioned above, classical music is synonymous with European culture, so it was a delightful surprise to discover that the HKAF has managed to invite the flagship orchestra of South America – the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra – to make its debut in Asia. When it comes to Brazilian culture, I am sure that many Hong Kongers would immediately think of the famous Samba Football – and quite rightly so, knowing the successes that Brazil has had in this sport and the number of superstars that they have produced. What people don’t often know, however, is that Brazil has also produced some remarkable classical music composers in the 20th Century, including the influential Heitor Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guarnieri, and both their music will be performed in the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra’s concerts at HKAF 2019. These two composers’ music reconciled European traditions and Brazilian impressionistic influences with an exotic twist; it is unlike any European art music that classical aficionados are used to. This concert will truly be a revelation to the Hong Kong audiences, and the programmes also include music by the Argentine Alberto Ginastera as well as classical staples by Paganini, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Leonard Bernstein. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Marin Alsop, one of the very few leading female conductors of our generation who is the first women to be named Music Director of a major American orchestra (the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) and also the first woman to conduct the prestigious Last Night concert at the BBC Proms. These two concerts by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by possibly the most influential and powerful female conductor in the world, promise to be truly historic occasions.
3. Denis Matsuev Piano Recital
(7 March 2019, Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall)
In my view, there isn’t a pianist in the world better than Denis Matsuev when it comes to interpreting Russian and Soviet piano works. Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998 at the age of 23, Matsuev has gone on to become one of the most prominent pianists in the industry. Matsuev’s playing is always convincing, compelling and authoritative, and demonstrates brilliant technical and intellectual control. His interpretations of the works by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Sergei Prokofiev are definitive (indeed, he was invited by the grandson of Rachmaninoff to become an artistic director of the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation), while his collaborations with conductor Valery Gergiev are arguably the best artistic partnership in the classical music world. In this concert, Matsuev will perform an all-Tchaikovsky programme, featuring three profound and poignant pieces – The Seasons, Meditation and the Piano Sonata in G Major. There are only three possible emotions when one leaves this concert – utterly impressed, sentimentally touched or thoroughly dazzled… Or more likely, all of these emotions at once!