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Monday, November 3, 2008


(Pic: Joanne Rosario)

Star of the evening was KZNPO’s former principal clarinettist Joanne Rosario. (Review by Michael Green)

Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony No 2 is apparently a favourite of Naum Rousine, one of the two resident conductors of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra (he took the baton for this concert), but it appears that his enthusiasm is not shared by Durban’s concertgoers.

There was a distinctly sparse audience in the Durban City Hall for this concert, in which the second half was devoted to the 55-minute symphony, written in 1901 by a Russian composer who was a curious mixture of musical visionary, mysticism, pretentiousness and old-fashioned megalomania.

Scriabin has his adherents, including many celebrated pianists, Horowitz, Richter and Ashkenazy among them, but I think it fair to say that his music has never quite gripped the popular imagination.

The star of the evening was without question Joanne Rosario, the orchestra’s former principal clarinettist who now lives in England. She played Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No 1, a graceful and elegant work by an important figure in German music (he died in London in 1826 at the age of 40). The concerto is not quite in the same league as Mozart’s clarinet concerto but it is a lovely piece and the slow movement has a distinct echo of the adagio of Mozart’s concerto.

Joanne Rosario, as slim as a reed and dressed in a lovely evening gown that my fashion-conscious neighbours in the City Hall described as burgundy or aubergine in colour, gave a performance of rare quality. She produced an immaculate, full tone, with no sign of a false note anywhere, and her breath control was excellent, especially in the rapid and florid passages of the final movement. At the end she was given a well-deserved ovation.

The concert opened with Smetana’s The Moldau, a wonderfully evocative tone picture of the river that flows through the Bohemian countryside. Naum Rousine and the orchestra were in good form, with a resounding performance of this very fine music. - Michael Green