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KZNPO CONCERT: FEBRUARY 15 (article first published : 2007-02-16)

A young lion of the keyboard was waiting in the wings to play one of the big piano concertos, but it was a symphony that took the main honours at this concert given in the Durban City Hall by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

It was admittedly a very special symphony, one of the greatest in the repertory: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat, the Eroica. Two centuries after its composition this remains a work of enormous intellectual and emotional power, 45 minutes of monumental music.

The performance was a triumph for the orchestra and for visiting Israeli conductor Omri Hadari. Conducting without a score, he drew meticulous and accurate playing from the orchestra, - the fruit, no doubt, of painstaking attention to detail at rehearsals. I have never heard better playing from the horns, especially in their famous “early” entry in the first movement (a Beethoven special effect that caused some of his contemporaries to think that the horns had come in too soon) and in the Trio of the Scherzo, the third movement.

Likewise there was some fine playing from the woodwind and the trumpets, plus precise attack from the strings. I think the audience sensed that all the players seemed motivated by Omri Hadari’s total commitment to the music, and there was prolonged applause at the end, with the conductor making a graceful bow of acknowledgment to his players.

The piano soloist was the young Serbian virtuoso Vladimir Milosevic, who had created a great impression at his Friends of Music recital two nights earlier. He played Brahms’s Piano Concerto No, 1 in D minor, a difficult work technically and psychologically (not least because the soloist has to sit listening to the orchestra for a long time before his first entry).

A strong soloist is required, and Vladimir Milosevic met the challenge admirably. He is a slight figure at the keyboard, but Brahms’s thundering double octaves posed no problem for him and he produced some lovely playing in the lyrical passages. An impressive, well-judged and highly successful performance, with good, balanced playing from Omri Hadari and the orchestra. - Michael Green




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