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KZNPO CONCERT: 7 OCTOBER 2004 (article first published : 2004-10-10)

Rossini, Mozart and Dvorak provided a particularly attractive programme for last nightís symphony concert by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Lykele Temmingh, and a young pianist brought sparkle to the evening.

The pianist was Ben Schoeman, a third year music student at the University of Pretoria, and he played Mozartís Piano Concerto No.17 in G major, K.453, with considerable panache. I reckon he is about 22 years old, but he looks about 15. Deceptively youthful, really; his playing was mature and poised. This is not one of the better known of Mozartís 27 piano concertos, but it is beautiful music, with a plethora of lovely themes and a chirpy final movement allegedly based on the song of Mozartís pet starling.

The player handled the technical problems with apparent ease, and his keyboard stance was pleasantly calm and unmannered. All of which was much to the taste of the audience, which gave him prolonged applause.

Rossiniís overture to The Barber of Seville opened the concert --- music that is very familiar and yet has a kind of untiring charm --- and one of the big Dvorak symphonies, No. 7 in D minor, Op.70, completed the programme. This is a splendid work, and the orchestra gave a strong account of it, with some conspicuously good playing from the woodwind instruments. There were times, however, when the brass overpowered the string section.

There is always something new. I have been a concert-goer for more than 50 years, but never before have I seen an orchestra player, in a prominent position on the platform, take several drinks (during a performance) from a plastic water bottle kept at his feet. I wonder what Sir Thomas Beecham would have said. - Michael Green




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