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KZNPO CONCERT: MAY 19, 2005 (article first published : 2005-05-20)

A brilliant performance of Sergei Prokofievís Romeo and Juliet ballet music was without question the high point of this opening concert of the KZN Philharmonicís winter season of its World Symphony Series.

Under the baton of the Dutch conductor Arjan Tien, who is an old favourite with Durban City Hall audiences, the orchestra, about 70 strong, gave a totally compelling account of Prokofievís dramatic and beautiful music. They were rewarded with prolonged applause at the end.

Prokofiev wrote the Romeo and Juliet ballet 70 years ago and extracted from it two orchestral suites which, by one of those quirks of history, were performed several times before the actual ballet was staged. The two full suites consist of 14 pieces and run for about an hour. The KZNPO gave ten excerpts, and reversed the usual order by playing the items from the second suite first. This worked well, I thought. The performance opened with the best-known part of all, the magnificent Montagues and Capulets number, and closed with the immensely dramatic Death of Tybalt.

All this was grand music, grandly and precisely played, with a particularly fine contribution from the brass instruments.

A different kind of showpiece by a Russian composer, Tchaikovskyís Capriccio Italien, opened the programme and was played by the orchestra with much verve and apparent enjoyment.

Alexander Glazunovís Violin Concerto in A minor seemed a little tame by comparison. Glazunov (1865-1936), yet another Russian, was more or less unaffected by modern musical developments, and this concerto is in the romantic tradition of the nineteenth century. It is an appealing work, with an Andante of surpassing sweetness, and the violin soloist, Marc Uys (who was born in Pietermaritzburg), gave full value to this with a lovely rounded tone.

The final Allegro is a glittering piece with technical challenges which the violinist handled with skill and composure. - Michael Green




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