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KZNPO CONCERT NOVEMBER 13 (article first published : 2003-11-15)

It is always gratifying when a home town boy or girl makes good, and one could sense a special warmth running through the Durban City Hall audience on 13 November as they listened to a lovely performance by Lara Jones of Mozartís Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

Lara was born in Durban, grew up here and was one of the last pupils of the late Ethel Kerkin, one of our most distinguished piano teachers. She has studied in Germany for the past three years and in that time she has developed into a mature, poised and sensitive artist. Above all other composers, Mozart is her metier and this concerto, Mozartís last, gave ample scope to display her sparkling fingerwork, limpid tone in the slow movement, and cool judgment of tempi, pauses and dynamics.

A beautifully balanced performance that deservedly won her an ovation from the enthusiastic audience. The conductor, Leslie Dunner from the United States, was a skilful and sympathetic partner.

Mozartís Marriage of Figaro overture, irresistible as always, opened the concert, and then the orchestra move on a century to the rich and luscious extravagances of Richard Strauss: the tone poem Don Juan and the suite Der Rosenkavalier, music adapted from the opera of that name.

This is virtuoso material from one of the great orchestrators of musical history, and the KZN Philharmonic, expanded to 70 players, rose magnificently to the occasion. The five horn players were in particularly good form in Don Juan, a point acknowledged by the conductor when he accepted the plaudits of an excited audience.

It was one of those concerts that are a reminder of just what it means to have a full-scale symphony orchestra, and what a tragedy it would be to lose it. - Michael Green




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