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KZNPO CONCERT: JUNE 30 2005 (article first published : 2005-07-5)

A programme of Berlioz, Dvorak and Elgar attracted a large audience to the Durban City Hall for this final concert of the KZN Philharmonicís winter season. Two visiting musicians were featured: the British conductor Nicholas Cleobury and the Norwegian violinist Ole Bohn.

Mr Cleobury showed himself to be a genial and sympathetic figure on the rostrum, and he drew some excellent playing from the orchestra, especially in Elgarís Enigma Variations. Mr Bohnís performance was (like Elgarís composition) somewhat enigmatic and variable. He played Dvorakís Violin Concerto in A minor, a splendid work that is not performed as often as it deserves to be.

A tall, dignified, silver-haired figure, Ole Bohn is concertmaster of the Norwegian National Opera and is a soloist with a distinguished track record. He lives in Oslo and uses a violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in 1766.

He was at his best in the beautiful slow movement of the concerto, producing the rich, mellow tone that the work requires and showing a well-judged sense of phrasing and dynamics. He seemed less at ease in the outer movements, which make severe technical demands on the soloist. Still, one must judge a performance as a whole, and he was given warm applause by an audience which sensed the artistic integrity of his playing.

The concert opened with the vivid and brilliant Roman Carnival overture by that wild genius Hector Berlioz, and the Elgar brought forth the best performance of the evening. English conductors have, understandably, a special appreciation of Elgarís music, and Nicholas Cleobury skilfully brought out the many nuances in the composerís brilliant musical pictures of his friends. Good playing all round from the orchestra, especially the brass: horns, trumpets, trombones and tuba. - Michael Green




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