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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

KZNPO CONCERT SEPTEMBER 25 (article first published : 2003-09-26)

A large scarlet and white banner saying “Celebrate e Thekwini” was hanging over the Durban City Hall stage for the first concert (on September 25) of the KZN Philharmonic’s spring season, and this the orchestra, a choir and some distinguished soloists did in style to the great enjoyment of a big audience.

The programme consisted of an interesting and enjoyable local composition and two masterworks by great composers. Phelelani Mnomiya’s Mdubane is a six-minute work for choir, four vocal soloists and orchestra which attempts to give a view of Durban, Mdubane being yet another name for our city. We have a cosmopolitan society, and the composer, a 43-year-old Durban man, has woven strands of Zulu music, including hand-clapping and ululating, into the otherwise quite conventional western format of his composition. The general effect is always pleasing and often exciting, and the composer has shown considerable skills in creating the orchestral framework. Mdubane was first performed in the City Hall a year ago, and this second performance confirmed the good impressions formed earlier.

Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, Op 56, for cello, violin and piano, is something of a rarity, and it was given an outstanding performance by Rachel Mercer, Sergey Ostrovsky and Dror Biran, three artists who had enchanted a Durban audience earlier in the week when they appeared with the Aviv String Quartet. Inevitably the high point was the serene and ethereal Largo, one of those slow movements where Beethoven really climbs on to cloud nine, and here Rachel Mercer produced a beautiful singing tone from her cello. Dror Biran has a commanding presence at the piano, and Sergei Ostrovsky is a violinist with absolutely pure intonation. A lovely performance greatly enhanced by the sympathetic approach of conductor En Shao who has a big following in Durban.

En Shao, who comes from China, is a most engaging and dynamic personality, and he showed a notable degree of athleticism in his totally convincing interpretation of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World. Written during the Czech composer’s three-year stay in the United States, it is a fascinating amalgam of Bohemian and American musical influences. This wonderful work has been a great favourite since its first performance in New York in 1893, and over the past 50 years it has been played more often than any other symphony in London’s Royal Festival Hall.

The orchestra rose magnificently to the occasion. Dvorak, a master of orchestral colour, gives every instrument a chance to shine at some time or another, and nobody let him down. The ovation given by the audience to conductor and orchestra was well deserved. - Michael Green

Click on the KZNPO advert on artSMart pages to take you to the website which features the full schedule of the season as well as other information regarding KZNPO activities.




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