The Orchestra

“(Mahler 7) Magical, masterful Mahler from five-star Hong Kong Philharmonic and Jaap van ZwedenThe HKPhil was more than up to the task, presenting the broad palette of Mahler’s tonal effects gloriously in what was a five-star interpretation.”

Christopher Halls, South China Morning Post, November 2018

“You’re hearing one of the best Wagner orchestras in the world.”

The Times, November 2018

“Our goal in taking this (Ring Cycle) on was to raise the standard of the orchestra and introduce to our audience to something new. With the first, I think we’ve really succeeded – we are now being compared favourably with orchestras like Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. For the second, ticket sales show that people are really interested in this, and that the audience has enjoyed the challenge. All in all, it has been a huge success story.”

Andrew Anderson, International Arts Manager 
“Interview with Michael MacLeod (interviewed in Jan 2018)”, June 2018

“(Gershwin Variations on “I got rhythm”) …the orchestra contributed fully, with wonderful sighing strings, cheeky clarinets and precise percussion and brass.”

Christopher Halls, South China Morning Post, December 2017

“(Gershwin Variations on “I got rhythm”) Soloist and orchestra no doubt got the rhythm right with energy and lucidity aplenty.”

Alan Yu, Bachtrack, December 2017

“(Beethoven Symphony No. 4) The string playing was … topnotch and the woodwind soloists were superb…”

Christopher Halls, South China Morning Post, December 2017

“Jaap van Zweden has rehearsed his players to an admirable level of prowess …a cogent, no-nonsense Siegfried that is always alive with interest… Siegfried offers a good, all-round performance. The scene is set for a successful conclusion of the Hong Kong Ring next year.”

Financial Times, November 2017

“The HK Phil is always utterly secure and ever responsive to [Jaap] van Zweden’s fine-grained control. There’s never a shortage of lustre or refinement…”

The Guardians, November 2017

“(Jaap’s Bruckner 8) Dutch maestro brings out the dynamic subtleties and intricate moments of Austrian’s monumental work while maintaining a firm grasp of its structure, aided by principal horn Jiang Lin’s confident playing... in the movement’s final measures, a culmination van Zweden delivered with scintillating clarity.”

Dirk Newton, South China Morning Post, October 2017

“(Yuja’s Beethoven & Mahler 5) In tonight’s performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, Hong Kong witnessed how far this musical journey between van Zweden and his orchestra has matured to a new Everest in this most complex of scores.”

Lam Pak Ling, Bachtrack, September 2017

“It is difficult to believe that the Hong Kong Philharmonic is playing the Ring for the first time. Under van Zweden, the orchestra sounds as if it had this music in its blood.”

Robert Markow, Der Neue Merker, March 2017

“The orchestra rose to the opera’s (the Ring) difficult musical challenges with great assurance under the competent direction of Jaap van Zweden”

Dirk Newton, South China Morning PostJanuary 2017

“Orchestral colours were superb and balance among the various parts was well maintained.”

Alan Yu, Bachtrack for Classical Music, January 2017

“(Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat)The four principals – Richard Bamping (cello), Jing Wang (violin), Michael Wilson (oboe) and Benjamin Moermond (bassoon) – brought clarity, assurance and brilliance to their respective roles.”

Kevin Kwong, South China Morning Post, December 2016

“(Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat) Wilson (Michael Wilson) was clearly the shining force”

Kevin Kwong, South China Morning Post, December 2016

“Hong Kong Philharmonic shines in Mahler 3’s forceful and intimate episodes under baton of Jaap van Zweden”

Dirk Newton, South China Morning Post, December 2016

“(Mahler Symphony No. 3) The HK Phil’s rendition, under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, ran the gamut of emotions both in chamber-music-like moments and with the orchestra in full voice – from the grand to the understated, from the powerful to the poignant, and from ominous to other-worldly ethereal.”

Dirk Newton, South China Morning Post, December 2016

“(Mahler Symphony No. 3) …an exquisite flute solo by Megan Sterling offered a ray of contrast to the opening theme in the lower strings.”

Dirk Newton, South China Morning Post, December 2016

“(The 19th Beijing Music Festival 2016) HK Phil’s performance was splendid, exquisite and delicate; Jaap van Zweden’s conducting was intoxicating and god-like. Together, they made a supreme partnership.”

Jing Zuo Ren, Beijing critic, November 2016

“(Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1) The First was an elegant gem, played with such clarity it was like watching the musical score.”

Alexis Alrich, South China Morning Post, December 2015

“(Beethoven’s Symphony no. 8) The Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Beethoven symphonic cycle showed off conductor Jaap van Zweden’s winning mix of power and control and a distinct dash of dance-like grace.”

South China Morning Post, November 2015

“(Wagner Des Rheingold) The real gem here is the orchestra: flickeringly vivid and numbly theatrical, they rise to nearly all Wagner’s demands, and Van Zweden knows exactly what he is doing with them.”

Neil Fisher, The Times, February 2015

“(Brahms Cycle 4 & 1) The HK Phil has what it takes to deliver world-class shows.”

Jason Ng, Time Out Hong Kong, December 2014

"(HK Phil 40th Anniversary Gala Concert) Under van Zweden, their (HK Phil's) playing is also fiery and earthy, indeed achieving a higher level."

Ken Smith, Financial Times, June 2014

"(Ashkenazy and Gabetta Return) Compared with In the South, orchestration in the Cello Concerto is lightweight, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic delivered it as a superb counterpoise to the soloist without getting in her way. Most pleasing for me were flashes of that elusive 'rustic English' sound in the strings, which made it that much more Elgar"

Alan Yu,, April 2014

"(HK Phil with Lang Lang) The Hong Kong Philharmonic was not to be outshone. They sounded luscious in Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn. The woodwind section was radiant. The strings had a glossy sheen and the brass was golden. This audience got a technicolor rendition."

Alexis Alrich, South China Morning Post, April 2014

“(Lorin Maazel Fest: The Ring Without Words) …produce and unfailingly beautiful sound and a dramatically convincing atmosphere… Solos from the principal players across all departments were uniformly handled with taste and skill… They met the challenge magnificently.

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, November 2013

“Impressive throughout the ranks…”

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, November 2013

“The Hong Kong Philharmonic, that today ranks among the world's major symphony orchestras… Fabulous horn calls, thrilling string sonorities, a feast for ear and soul. 
A memorable night of music-making.”

Lorin Maazel, legendary conductor (1930-2014), November 2013

“(Swire Maestro: Jaap’s Beethoven 5) This generated a burst of energy for the rousing finish Beethoven would have wanted.”

Alexis Alrich, South China Morning Post, October 2013

“(Petrushka) the orchestra was dazzling, with Zeitouni delighting in every detail. From the first moment of murmuring woodwinds the room was filled with radiant sound. Each section had an ear-catching treat, from clouds of harp, celesta and glockenspiel to growls from the contrabassoon. The large brass section played as one with thrilling intonation and timing.”

Alexis Alrich, South China Morning Post, September 2013

“The level of the HK Phil’s performance was like a first class orchestra… like magic… the music making and the level of refinement was really extraordinary…”

Oliver Chou, RTHK Radio 4, September 2013

“(The Rite of Spring) the rest of the orchestra took up the gauntlet enthusiastically and endured fire and brimstone to bring out the fine details of Stravinsky’s orchestration…The frenetic energy was electrifying; the air was steamy with vitality.”

Alan Yu,, June 2013

“(Richard Strauss’ Don Juan) The orchestra responded with verve and precision to his (Ashkenazy) direction…The oboe and clarinet solos connected more by projection than gentle magnetism elsewhere, the climaxes were clearly macho.”

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, May 2013

“(Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony) The orchestra manages a good vocal clarity at a cellular level, the entire strings section deserve a big applause here. They have made the very small gestures clearly articulated with a reasonable unity.”

Dennis Wu,, May 2013

“Korsten gave us attractive hooks to latch on to here, particularly in the finale that ebbed and flowed with a persuasive dynamism. The rustic spirit of the third movement’s vibrant dancing was well caught; the first movement’s imperious opening led to an account that was wellpaced and shaped.”

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, April 2013

"(Tan Dun‧Hong Kong Philharmonic Recording) Among the glories are the delicate trombones which set the whole work into motion and outstanding virtuoso exhibitions from oboe and clarinet in the atmospheric third movement."


Gramophone, March 2013

“The orchestra stormed through some of the most difficult passages and there were some soaring, beautiful solos from wind instruments…. In many aspects the orchestra has been very successful this time. These efforts have made this musical exploration work and worthy.”

Dennis Wu, Art Plus, March 2013

“The HK Phil players were impressive throughout the ranks, particularly concertmaster Igor Yuzefovich who stepped up as soloist in Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s gypsy-rooted Tzigane.

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, January2013

“… Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, which brilliantly illustrated each movement’s structural force, zapping out the extra stops with judicious timing while integrating striking contrasts between the weighty and the wispy. The players sounded on fire at times and were at one with the podium technically and conceptually. More, please maestro.”

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, October 2012

“…the orchestra’s firm grip on rhythm added colour to the lovers’ struggle with paternal dominance and the inexorable march towards their tragic destiny (Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto).…It has been suggested that under Jaap van Zweden’s stewardship, the Hong Kong Philharmonic could become the “Berlin Philharmonic of Asia”. By demonstrating a strong affinity with Chinese culture, he has found a clear path towards distinguishing the orchestra from many of its counterparts in other parts of the world.”

Alan Yu,, September 2012

“The Hong Kong Philharmonic showed concentration, control and resilience, especially on the part of the percussionist, in this careful construction of one drum beat building up to a full orchestra onslaught. No wonder Jun Märkl singled out percussionist Aziz D. Barnard Luce for presentation to the audience at the end.”

Alan Yu,, June 2012

“The inner voices among the string sections were lucid, with fine phrasing, especially in the Andante, while the biting finale captured the great composer’s charm and power.”

Oliver Chou, South China Morning Post, April 2012

“De Waart played it (Beethoven Ninth Symphony) down the line with his modern-day resources, the slow movement particularly memorable for some fabulous wind playing, immaculately poised violins and a sustained light, classical touch.”

Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post, April 2012

“ (Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony) I was struck by how crisp he made the strings sound in the first movement, almost to the point of being cold, but I enjoyed the free rein he gave the woodwinds, especially the flute, to parade their full colours in their interaction with the soloist.”

Alan Yu,, March 2012

“(Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23) The orchestral accompaniment to Mr. Lewis, under the direction of Osmo Vänskä, was in perfect balance with the soloist, tightly grasping the flighty rhythm of this angelic work… The restrained and refined tone of the strings provided a snow-white canvas on which Mr. Lewis delicately overlaid soft pastel patterns, while the flute and clarinets sprinkled embellishing daubs of lustre.”

Alan Yu,, December 2011

“But the concert was best remembered by the Wagner overture. Performed with extra players in all sections, the Phil displayed brilliance and power.”

Dr Oliver Chou, South China Morning Post, November 2011