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Sunday, July 5, 2009


Brilliant performance by Andrew Warburton brings KZNPO winter season to a close. (Review by Michael Green)

A brilliant performance by a Durban pianist provided an appropriate conclusion to the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s winter season in this concert in the Durban City Hall.

The pianist was Andrew Warburton, who has been one of our top performers for many years, and the conductor was Victor Yampolsky from the United States, whose regular visits have made him well known and well regarded here.

The main item on the programme was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, not exactly a rarity but not nearly as well known as the concerto No. 1 in B flat minor. This second concerto, completed by the composer in 1880, is one of the longest and most difficult works in the repertory. Its three movements run for a good three-quarters of an hour, and Tchaikovsky gave the solo part the full virtuoso treatment: rapid chords and runs and arpeggios and double octaves, with of course plenty of those enchanting melodies which seemed to be second nature to this composer.

Some critics say that this concerto is superior to the famous B flat minor, but I think that is being a bit perverse. It is a lovely work, but it is rather too long for its content (and in its early years it was often played in an abridged version). #I hasten to add, however, that in the hands of Andrew Warburton and Victor Yampolsky, there was never a dull moment.

In the big virtuoso passages, the pianist’s hands were sometimes a blur on the keyboard, a thrilling display of technique and skill, and the Andante, musically the finest movement of the three, was played with beautiful tonal quality and judgment.

This movement includes lengthy solo passages for the orchestra’s principal violinist and cellist, and Hristo Kardjiev and Boris Kerimov rose splendidly to the occasion (and were specially acknowledged by pianist and conductor at the end).

There was prolonged applause at the end of this memorable performance.
The concert opened with Glazunov’s Valse de Concert No. 2 in F major, a delightfully graceful, elegant piece, rather in the style of ballet music, very well played by the orchestra.

And the programme was completed with Sibelius’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor, written in 1899, a lovely work, with the broad and brooding melodies that became the hallmarks of the Finnish master’s music. - Michael Green