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KZNPO CONCERT: MARCH 3 2005 (article first published : 2005-03-4)

Mozart was the menu for this delectable symphony concert given by the KZNPO, with the visiting British pianist Melvyn Tan the solo performer. And what a performance he gave of the Concerto No. 21 in C major, K.467.

Two days earlier Melvyn Tan had shown a Friends of Music audience that he is that rare creature, a poetic virtuoso, and that impression was amply confirmed in the Mozart. This is probably the best known of all Mozart’s 23 piano concertos, largely because its ineffably beautiful slow movement was used many years ago in a film called Elvira Madigan; even people who have never seen the film know this as “the Elvira Madigan concerto”.

It is a magnificent work from start to finish, and Mr Tan played it with crystal clarity. He is an extraordinary pianist, a slight, retiring kind of individual who almost literally gains stature when he touches the keys. He has the art of generating considerable power at the keyboard without ever seeming to be straining for effect, and his cantabile playing, in the slow movement in particular, was heart-touching in its grace and beauty.

We have heard excellent visiting pianists in this concert season, but I would rate Melvyn Tan the most artistic and therefore the most satisfying. The audience seemed to share this view; they gave him a prolonged ovation.

The Israeli conductor Omri Hadari scored another success in this concert. After the big noises of Bruckner and Mahler in the two previous weeks Mozart’s music, for a much smaller orchestra, was like a sparkling spring of pure water. The Divertimento in D, K.320, for strings and two horns, made a delightful opening to the concert, with the audience almost singing along in the familiar and delicious minuet. And Mozart’s final Symphony No. 41 in C major, the Jupiter, brought the evening to a resounding close. Wonderful music, fine playing.

The interval was taken early, after the first work, because one of the orchestra’s players had become ill and a substitute had to be summoned. The change was made and all went well, testimony to the resourcefulness of the orchestra’s management. - Michael Green




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