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KZNPO CONCERT: MARCH 15, 2007 (article first published : 2007-03-18)

Nineteen-year-old Avigail Bushakovitz, born in Jerusalem and now living in South Africa and studying in Cape Town, scored a resounding success when she played Saint-Saensís Violin Concerto No 3 in B minor with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a violinist, she has a technical skill and musical insight beyond her tender years. This concerto, written in 1880, is not particularly well known except for the slow movement, a kind of barcarolle or Venetian gondola song, but Avigailís poised performance was greatly to the liking of the Durban City Hall audience.

She produced a lovely sweet tone in the workís many lyrical passages and had no problem at all with the technical demands of high-pitched flourishes and rapid repeated notes. And she has a calm and relaxed stage presence.

At the end there was prolonged applause, not only from the audience but from the orchestra players themselves, and in response she played an encore, one of Paganiniís Caprices.

Having said that, one must concede that the high point of the evening was unquestionably the orchestraís performance of Dvorakís Symphony No 8 in G major. This wonderful work is one on the finest in the entire symphonic repertory, with its endless flow of melody, brilliant orchestration and generally positive, cheerful atmosphere.

The visiting Swiss conductor Emmanuel Siffert took the players deftly through the many subtleties and beauties of Dvorakís score. The brass were too dominant once or twice in the first movement but, that apart, the tonal balance was excellent and the playing all round was excellent (as a former orchestra player, Dvorak the composer made sure that every instrument had a fair chance). A lovely performance of a lovely symphony.

The concert opened with the overture to Mendelssohnís early operetta Return from Abroad. Pleasant and unremarkable. - Michael Green




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