[Herald Review] Cellist-turned-conductor brings Norwegian trolls to Seoul

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Nov 14, 2019 - 16:29
  • Updated : Nov 14, 2019 - 16:29

As Peer Gynt enters the hall of the mountain king, he is scared yet fascinated by the sight of trolls. Peer Gynt stands before the king and the trolls roar in harmony, creating echoes throughout the hall.

On Wednesday night, cellist-turned-conductor Chang Han-na and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra turned the concert hall at the Seoul Arts Center into the mountain king’s hall.

They presented the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, a collection of compositions conceived by Norwegian maestro Edvard Greig as incidental music for Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt.”

Chang Han-na conducts the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra at a concert at the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul on Wednesday. (Credia)

Chang, the artistic leader and chief conductor of the Norway-based orchestra, took the baton with passion, almost dancing on the podium. She was Peer Gynt herself, watching the sunrise at a beach in Morocco, crying in despair over his mother’s death, dancing with an Arabian beauty and encountering the dancing trolls.

Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, followed, and pianist Lim Dong-hyek amply demonstrated his technical maturity. The piece showcased virtuosic romanticism, heavily influenced by Norwegian folk music.

After the intermission, Chang and the orchestra returned for an almost 50-minute journey with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique.” She emphasized the tragic beauty of the piece -- often referred to as Tchaikovsky’s requiem -- by prolonging the finishing silence to nearly 10 seconds.

Before favoring the crowd with an encore, “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Chang greeted the audience in Korean with a big smile.

“It has been a while since I have taken to the stage in Korea. I am happy to be here,” she said. The young conductor, overcome with emotion, could not talk again for a while.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)