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KZNPO WSS SUMMER SEASON (article first published : 2008-02-2)

The KZN Philharmonic’s summer season of concerts in its World Symphony Series runs from February 7 to March 27. All concerts take place in the Durban City Hall at 19h30. Single ticket prices vary from R60 to R173 but subscriptions are also available, whereby patrons can make a saving of up to 25% on ticket prices.

February 7: The opening Gala Concert will be conducted by Roberto Benzi with the first item on the programme being Weber’s Der Freischütz: Overture. With its exceptional lyrical and dramatic qualities, as well as the rhapsodic nature of much of its material, Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1 in G minor - featuring soloist Bin Huang - is a firm favourite with concert audiences from the Adagio's exquisite song to the Finale's propulsive energy. The concert concludes with two French compositions. With music based on a poem by Mallarmé, who enthusiastically said of the score that "This music prolongs the emotion of my poem and fixes the scene much more vividly than colour could have done", Debussy’sPrélude à l'après-midi d'un faune stands as a beautiful example of music portraying colour, mood and eroticism. Finally, Roussel conjures up evocative images from the ballet of the same name for his popular Bacchus et Ariane: Suite no 2.

February 21. Conductor Joolz Gale. This concert marks the return of accomplished pianist Kotaro Fukuma who will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major which was written while the composer was working on Le nozze di Figaro. Like the opera, it maintains a delicate balance between boisterous high spirits and gentle melancholy. The Symphonic Dances – probably Grieg’s best orchestral masterpiece - is featured in the second half. The melodic materials are drawn mostly from Norwegian folk dances and peasant songs, but they are cast in a highly Romantic, German symphonic style. The beautiful simplicity, combined with the subtle shadings of the orchestral background, leave the audience with a feeling of lyric respite from the tensions of life. The other work on the programme is Rossini’s William Tell: Overture.

February 28: Conductor Yasuo Shinozaki. Preceded by Mozart’s Don Giovanni: Overture, the KZNPO proudly presents the South African premier of Koetsier’s expressively rich Concerto for Brass Quintet, which is performed by the acclaimed Geneva Brass Quintet in their debut with the Orchestra. This eclectic programme also features Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 "London" in D major, a light work of classical grace and innocence at its finest, as well as Kodaly’s colourful Galanta Dance, which the composer wrote to preserve the Hungarian tradition of gypsy music.

March 6: Conductor Yasuo Shinozaki. The evening opens with the subtle and witty overture to Mendelssohn’s Midsummernight’s Dream, which is followed by Weber’s lively and majestic Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major to be performed by Dimitri Ashkenazy. The concerto explores the sonorities and technical capabilities of the instrument – showing off the range of the clarinet. A tremendous work and not to be missed. The concert closes with Brahms’s magical Symphony No. 3 in F major. Although this symphony ends in a soft mode, it is nonetheless an enthralling piece that evokes images of woods and forests and all the mysteries and charms that lie within.

March 13: Conductor Jeremy Silver. The concert opens with Beethoven’s Egmont: Overture to be followed by another work by the same composer. Despite being filled with despair at his growing deafness, Beethoven created a playful and buoyant work with his appealing Symphony No. 2 in D major, which is also filled with original ideas and a sense of great strength. Fittingly, this is followed by Le tombeau de Couperin, which is Ravel’s musical compliment to friends, in particular Francois Couperin, who died in the First World War. This work reflects the bittersweet piquancy of a smile through tears. By contrast, Shostakovich’s decidedly upbeat Piano Concerto No. 1 to be performed by Vassily Primakov brings the evening to a spirited close.

March 20: Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes. Messiah by Handel (orch. Prout) is undoubtedly the most popular oratorio with its glorious and stirring music portraying the life and death of Christ. This much anticipated performance is an appropriate precursor for the Easter weekend. It will feature leading South African soloists: Linda Bukhosini (soprano); Veramarie Meyer (mezzo-soprano); Bongani Tembe (tenor) and Federico Freschi (baritone) with the Durban Symphonic Choir. There will be a repeat non-subscription performance of Messiah at the Playhouse on March 23 at 15h00.

March 27: Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes. One of Bach’s most popular instrumental works, the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor features the highly accomplished South African violinist Pieter Schoeman, who is currently the co-concert master of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He will perform alongside young Jacqui Wedderburn-Maxwell, who has successfully graced the stage with the KZNPO on numerous occasions. The programme also includes Handel’s Water Music: Suite No. 1 Hornpipe and Dvořák’s Romance in F minor With its subtleties and dissonance, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor is an interesting work that has gained far more attention since its debut. With every note and phrase having a purpose and meaning, it is a fittingly energetic conclusion to the season.

For more information, visit the KZN Philharmonic’s website – simply click on the banner advert on any of the main pages.




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