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KZNPO CONCERT: MARCH 23 (article first published : 2006-03-24)

This Mozart concert, one of many held throughout the world to mark the 250th anniversary of the composerís birth, gave great pleasure to an unusually large audience in the Durban City Hall, with a visiting conductor and an outstanding singer who are husband and wife.

Mozart, it seems, has a pulling power comparable to Beethovenís. And if some members of the audience were inexperienced concertgoers, applauding enthusiastically between the movements of symphonies - well, we all have to start somewhere and at least they were present and, one hopes, will come again.

The soloist with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra was the soprano Sally Silver, a local girl (born in Pietermaritzburg and a graduate of the Natal Technikon), who has made very good indeed. She has become an established name in Europe, and it is easy to hear why.

Singing arias from five Mozart operas she displayed a voice of great purity, flexibility and power. Clad in a white gown, she made an impressive figure on stage but her presentation was refreshingly free from the arch mannerisms that are all too common among opera singers.

I found her performance totally compelling, not least because she chose lesser-known items from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, plus some relatively rare arias from La Clemenza di Tito, Il Seraglio and the unfinished opera Zaide. This last provided some of the best moments of the entire evening, the kind of singing that touches the heart. The rapturous applause of the audience was well-deserved.

Sally Silverís husband, Jeremy Silver, is a young English conductor. Slim in stature and economical in gesture, he has a restrained approach on the rostrum. He obtained very good results from the orchestra in two of the finest of Mozartís 41 symphonies, No. 38, The Prague, and No. 39 in E flat major. The balance of the instruments was good, especially in the Prague, where the important woodwind parts were heard to good effect.

However, the two best-known movements of these two symphonies - the exquisite Andante of the Prague and the stately Minuet of No. 39 - were taken at an unusually brisk pace, and I imagine that this was not to everybodyís taste. - Michael Green




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