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KZN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA –CONCERT OCTOBER 30 (article first published : 2003-11-1)

The Durban City Hall audience were treated to a feast of fine cello music at the concert on October 30. A young American cellist named Mark Kosower turned out to be an exceptional artist, and he well deserved the ovations he received for his playing of two splendid but slightly neglected works.

The Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 is, for me, an irresistible type of composition, full of bold themes and lyrical passages that exploit to the utmost the tone and range of the cello. Mark Kosower plays a cello made in 1719, when Johann Sebastian Bach was in his heyday, and he extracted from this instrument a wonderful golden tone, especially in the lower register. One rarely hears playing of this quality.

In response to prolonged applause the cellist gave an encore, the Sarabande from J S Bach’s fourth unaccompanied Cello Suite. A solemn, stately piece that once again brought forth that rich, resonant sound.

After the interval Mark Kosower returned to play, with the orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, in which the Russian master temporarily abandoned his sorrowful introspections to write an elegant and graceful work in the baroque manner. Again, this was a beautifully judged performance by an unusually gifted soloist.

The orchestra, conducted by Robert Maxym, completed the programme with Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 and Liszt’s Les Preludes. The orchestra was reduced to 25 players to meet the requirements of Bach’s score, and they played very well. I heard the criticism that the three trumpets were too loud. I thought they were fine.

As for Les Preludes, I think that Liszt is at his corniest when he is at his most portentous. But then this is no doubt a minority opinion, and there was no doubt that the audience greatly enjoyed this grandiose and melodious piece. - Michael Green




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