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KZNPO CONCERT: MAY 29 2008 (article first published : 2008-06-2)

Beethoven and Tchaikovsky predictably attracted a sizeable audience to the Durban City Hall for the second concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s winter season.

The artistic core of the programme was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, a masterful work played in masterly fashion by Anton Nel, the South African pianist who has for the past eight years been a professor at the University of Texas.

The piano part in this concerto (first played by Beethoven himself more than 200 years ago) is magnificent and Anton Nel delivered full value from its store of riches. He has a formidable technique and he took the opening Allegro at an unusually brisk pace, but the result was undeniably exciting and compelling.

The Largo, one of Beethoven’s finest slow movements, was given plenty of space to breathe and expand, and the final Rondo was played with great panache.

The orchestra was conducted by a familiar and welcome visitor from Holland, Arjan Tien, and it fulfilled its important role splendidly.

In response to prolonged applause Anton Nel gave an encore: Beethoven’s Bagatelle in C major, Op. 33, No. 5, played at high speed and with ineffable skill and grace.

The concert opened with Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and ended with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, sub-titled Winter Dreams or Winter Daydreams. For some reason this youthful symphony is not played very often but it is an immensely attractive work, full of good tunes and brilliant orchestration.

Arjan Tien has a lively but controlled style of conducting, with a careful attention to detail, and under his leadership the orchestra revelled in this grand symphony. A memorable concert that gave great pleasure to all present. - Michael Green




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