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HIGH SUMMER MUSIC (article first published : 2007-03-25)

And so we approach the end of another KZNPO season in the Durban City Hall, with this evening's penultimate Summer Season concert followed by the final leg next Thursday. British conductor Owain Hughes, associate conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic, takes the podium for both events.

Composed in 1888, Faure's famed Pavane, elegantly scored for strings, flutes, oboes, clarinets bassoons and horns, promises a gentle lift-off to this evening's programme, its rhythmic ebb and flow evoking the slow processional Spanish Court dance after which it is named.

Award-winning Cape Town-based guitarist James Grace takes this evening's solo spot, offering concert goers a rare encounter with Villa Lobos' Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra. This delicately scored yet exciting work explores its soloist's virtuosity to the hilt, and represents the summation of the Brazilian composer's lifelong devotion to the guitar as a classical instrument. The concerto has gradually gained a foothold since its first performances in 1951, eventually establishing its reputation as the masterful work that it is. So here's looking forward to hearing performed live, albeit in the less-than-ideal context of a venue that is anything but chamber-sized.

Sibelius' Symphony No 2, the evening's magnum opus, is by far the most popular work in the great Finnish composer's symphonic oeuvre. Completed and first performed in 1902, it serves to counter the often cited dictum that Sibelius was ruled overwhelmingly in his creative process by purely nationalist impulses as he played his part in keeping Finland free from Tsarist Russian rule.

Several of the Second Symphony's major themes were developed during a stay in Italy, originally conceived for a tone poem to have been based on Dante'sDivine Comedy. Yet the style of the work is so unmistakably Finnish, that critics have often seen it as another instance of musical patriotism, moulded in the tradition of Finlandia and other Sibelius favourites.

Baroque 2000 presents their next concert this Sunday (25 March) at St Olav's Church, Musgrave Road at 11h30. The programme includes music by Telemann, Handel and Muffat, with the multi award-winning soprano Bronwyn Forbay as the soloist.

Next Thursday's KZNPO concert programme compilation (March 29), as many will know by now, is by courtesy of KZNPO subscriber Desmond Clark, winner of the season's competition run in the Sunday Tribune. It will feature performances of four ever-greens of the concert platform, Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave Overture, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto no 2 (with Russian pianist Vladimir Viardo the soloist), Schubert's Symphony No 8 ‘The Unfinished' and Rimsky Korsakov's flamboyant Capriccio Espagnol, the latter guaranteeing the season ends on a high.

The Durban Symphonic Choir team with the KZN Philharmonic on April 1 at Mariannhill Cathedral for a performance of Faure's Requiem, along with Mozart's virtuosic motet, Exultate Jubilate and excerpts of Handel's Messiah. Naum Rousine conducts with soloists soprano Bronwyn Forbay and baritone Bulelani Madikizela on the roster. The concert starts at 15h00. Tickets R60 (all ages -seating unreserved) available at the door Enquiries on 031 765 7894 or 031 702 6005.

Looking ahead in off-season mode, concert-goers might well consider booking early for a rare chance next month to catch the St Petersburg Ballet, accompanied live by our own fine orchestra, performing Swan Lake and Giselle. Tickets are said to be selling fast for the short season in the Playhouse Opera which starts on April 25. Booking is at Computicket.

Finally, if you've not yet done so, today is the last chance to show your support and vote online for your favourite classical music artist or group in this year's Fools Awards. You can do so by logging onto www.copydog.co.za – William Charlton-Perkins




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