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KZNPO CONCERT: OCTOBER 19 (article first published : 2006-10-21)

After the rigours of Bartok, Honneger and Shostakovich in recent weeks, a programme of Mozart, Chopin and Brahms drew a good audience to the Durban City Hall for this concert by the KZN Philharmonic.

Another attraction was the appearance as soloist of the brilliant young Italian pianist Carlo Guaitoli. He gave a delightful performance of Mozartís Concerto No. 12 in A major, K.414, one of the composerís lesser-known concertos, a smiling work full of bright melodies. These were played by the soloist with the deftest of light touches, and the soft cantabile passages were given with crystal clarity. Our new Steinway piano has never sounded better.

The orchestra, conducted by Lykele Temmingh, fulfilled its important role in this concerto consistently well.

From the audienceís point of view the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Chopinís Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, Op. 22. This is something of a curiosity. The two pieces were written independently and latched together by the composer later. The work can be played with orchestra or as a piano solo and indeed it is more often played as a solo (Carlo Guaitoli himself did so when he was last in Durban two years ago).

This is understandable. The orchestra simply provides a rather sketchy accompaniment. In either case the Andante Spianato (spianato means smooth) is played solo.

Carlo Guaitoli played this idyllic Andante with great skill, the serene melody singing out above its undulating accompaniment. The Grande Polonaise which follows is musically not of the same quality as some of Chopinís other polonaises but it is a glittering virtuoso work. Carlo Guaitoli gave it the full treatment at high speed and was rewarded with a foot-stamping ovation.

The encore was in complete contrast: Brahmsís tender, meditative Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2, with the pianist again revealing the excellent tone of the new piano.

Brahmsís genial Symphony No. 2 in D major ended the concert, with Lykele Temmingh drawing another good performance from the orchestra, especially in the first movement, with a notable contribution from the horns. The return of the main theme, slightly varied, towards the end of this movement is, I think, like a great swell on the ocean, perhaps the finest passage in Brahmsís entire orchestral oeuvre. Magical music, and it was beautifully played. - Michael Green




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