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FINAL SEASON CONCERT (article first published : 2000-12-4)

The KZN Philharmonic ended its 2000 Spring Season in grand style with two of the concert repertoire’s most spectacular showpieces, Respighi’s Roman Festivals and Orff’s crowd-pulling Carmina Burana, raising the rafters of the Durban City Hall. Under the baton of Leslie B Dunner, both works scored for large 20th century forces, were treated to full-blooded performances, etched with fine dynamic nuance and superbly drawn solo playing, in the Respighi particularly.

Each work was notable, as was the case the previous week, for an unflagging sense of forward momentum emanating from the podium, and a sharply focused sense of the overall musical structure of each piece. This prevented any sense of wallowing or drowning in an amorphous sea of sound, sometimes a potential hazard in the more densely-scored passages of Respighi’s large-scale writing. Under Dunner’s eagle eye, full attention was given to instrumental characterisation as the composer’s spotlight fell on individual players and orchestral sections throughout the work.

In the Orff, Dunner’s precise and finely articulated beat paid extra dividends, serving to enhance his central ‘story-telling’ role in this of all works. Under their new director Rosalie Conrad, the combined Durban Symphonic Choir and KZN Chorale distinguished themselves with excellent diction, detailed attention to dynamics and a rich, strong sound that offset the pristine singing of the soloists.

Andre Howard was once again a delight to hear and, in his lurching, drunken Abbot scene, to see as well. Anina Wassermann looked terrific and turned in a traditionally girlish sound marred only slightly by moments of suspect intonation in the earlier moments of her singing.

The excellent boy choristers comprised members of the Durban Boys Choir and boys from the Christopher Nxumalo Senior Primary School – William Charlton-Perkins




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