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KZNPO CONCERT: JUNE 22 (article first published : 2006-06-24)

This was a programme of happy, relaxed music by Mozart and Schubert. Genius has its smiling side as well as the big, dramatic moments, and a smallish Durban City Hall audience, probably diminished by the cold weather and the flu, enjoyed the experience.

The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra had a new guest conductor, 37-year-old Antoine Marguier from Switzerland. He has a fluent, expressive style of conducting, and he drew some lovely sounds from the orchestra in Mozartís Symphony No. 34 in C major and Schubertís Symphony No. 5 in B flat major. Neither is particularly well-known and both are delectable works, written for orchestras without big instrumental resources, and none the worse for that. There were only about 45 players on the City Hall stage, and the quality of sound was excellent.

The soloist for the evening was the youthful violinist Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne, who was born in Poland but seems to have spent most of his working life in England. He played Mozartís Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K219, which is by some distance the best of the composerís five violin concertos.

The opening movement illustrates the touch of genius. After a brisk orchestral opening there is a brief silence, a void, and then the soloist enters with a piercingly sweet Adagio recitative. We had only to hear these first few notes from Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne to recognize that he is a player of exceptional quality.

This level of accomplishment was sustained throughout the work and he showed great zest and brilliance in the final Allegro, which includes a dance in Turkish style Ö well, Mozartís version of Turkish music.

A most enjoyable evening. Mozart died at 35, Schubert at 31. One was left to ponder, not for the first time, what they might have been produced if they had each lived for another ten years. - Michael Green




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