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KZNPO CONCERT: OCTOBER 6 (article first published : 2005-10-7)

A Brahms-dominated programme, with a delectable dash of Schubert, was greatly to the liking of the audience attending this KZN Philharmonic concert in the Durban City Hall.

After the Rosemunde Overture by Schubert, a blithe spirit if ever there was one, we were taken into the very different world of Brahms by way of two of his major works, the Violin Concerto and the Symphony No. 1 in C minor. The conductor was Francois-Xavier Roth from France and the soloist was Grigory Kalinovsky, a young Russian now living in the United States.

Dressed in black from tip to toe, the violinist was a rather solemn figure (as befits Brahms, I suppose). The concerto, a very fine composition, demonstrates both the classical and romantic sides of Brahmsís musical personality. The performance received enthusiastic applause but I heard some dissenting judgments in my part of the hall. Mr Kalinovsky is obviously a first-rate violinist, but there were one or two faults of intonation in the long and complex first movement. No such criticism could be made, however, of the beautiful Adagio, which brought forth some wonderfully expressive playing from soloist and orchestra. And the final Allegro, played with great vigour, brought the concerto to an exciting conclusion.

Brahmsís first symphony progresses, over a period of about 45 minutes, from a gloomy opening to a triumphant ending, the latter having an obvious resemblance to Beethovenís ninth symphony.

Francois-Xavier Roth, who does not use a baton when conducting, took the first movement at quite a brisk pace (it was none the worse for that) and extracted full value from the orchestra through the entire work. Again the slow movement was a high point, with strong, passionate tone from the strings and some beautifully poised playing from the woodwind instruments.

The final movement contains one of Brahmsís truly magical moments: a horn call which is echoed and developed by the woodwind and the trombones and which leads to a grand hymnĖlike melody. All the players involved in this critical passage performed exceptionally well, as indeed did the whole orchestra in the majestic final theme of the symphony.

A most satisfying concert. Ė Michael Green




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