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SUPERB BELKIN (article first published : 2001-02-23)

Review of KZNPO World Symphony Series concert on February 22, City Hall, Durban. Conductor: David Tidboald. Soloists: Boris Belkin and Sergei Riabov.

Not since Pinchas Zukerman appeared here three years back have we had a violinist of this ilk before us. Boris Belkin is a stupendous player, a highly evolved musician, and, clearly, a congenial colleague wholly at one with those around him. With an endearing lack of ego comparable to that of the other great Russian-born star we’ve hosted recently, Ashkenazy, he made his first appearance of the evening to take the second solo part in Vivaldi s Concerto for Two Violins in A minor, deferring to the lead of Sergei Riabov, KZNPO’s Associate Concert Master.

The latter executed his side of the contract with assurance and polish. As both players are seasoned chamber musicians, they achieved a fine balance with the KZNPO string contingent onstage for this congenial piece, notably in the charming Larghetto, one of those elemental moments in Vivaldi when his writing evokes the simplicity of childhood.

The evening’s centre-piece, Mozart’s Symphony No 39 in E flat, met with a superb reading from David Tdiboald. From the imposing grandeur of its stately opening to the athletic brevity of its closing bars, this was a lithe, highly charged account of an inexhaustibly fascinating work which is one of the great pieces of western musical literature, not least of whose amazing attributes is its quasi-contrapuntal finale, constructed from a single musical fragment, a miraculous feat of composition.

The Brahms Violin Concerto in the second half was charged with a life-force that was all-enveloping. The soloist’s gentleness was heart-stopping as he took up that magical oboe melody that opens the slow movement. In the great climaxes of the outer movements, Belkin’s impossibly beautiful tone, powerful projection and lightning attack were all but unbelievable. The collaboration with Tidboald, always at one with Brahms, and an orchestral force on peak form cast a glow of euphoria and a degree of excitement over the audience that provoked the second standing ovation of the season.

More, please, soon from this superlative musician - William Charlton-Perkins




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