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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Lykele Temmingh deserves praise for searching out talented young musicians and conducting with sympathy and understanding on their big night. (Review by Michael Green)

This concert in the Durban City Hall presented young musicians who are part of the National Youth Concerto Festival. The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra was under the baton of its resident conductor, Lykele Temmingh, who had auditioned 60 young players and singers from five centres around South Africa. At this concert we heard three pianists, two string players, a flautist and two young women singers, plus a wind band.

The obvious drawback of this occasion is that it is not a symphony concert in any ordinary meaning of the term. Concerto movements are performed, not full-scale works. On the other hand, the concert does offer great variety and the opportunity to hear, and talent-spot, gifted young artists who have yet to make their full reputations as solo performers.

There was one entire piano concerto, the single-movement Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, written for an Austrian pianist who had lost his right arm in World War 1. This formidably difficult work was played with great skill and aplomb by Mia Pistorius, a second-year music student at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. It is a fine, dark composition, with a lively, rather jazzy middle section, and Ravel displays a quite startling ability to make one hand sound like two. Mia Pistorius, a slight and elegant figure at the keyboard, played the several long solo passages calmly and without fuss, and with due regard to phrasing, emphasis and dynamics. An impressive performance which was enthusiastically applauded by the audience.

Movements from two of the most famous of piano concertos, the Rachmaninov No. 2 and the Tchaikovsky No.1, were played by, respectively, Megan-Geoffrey Prins (19), a student at Stellenbosch University, and Sophia Wu, who was born in China and is now studying at Pretoria University.

An unusually gifted cellist, Abel Selaocoe of Johannesburg, played the first movement of Lalo’s Concerto in D minor; a flautist, Garreth Cederes of Stellenbosch, played a Mozart movement; and Durban’s Yea Kyung Kim, at 14 probably the youngest performer of the evening, tackled a difficult violin concerto by Giovanni Viotti (1755-1824) with confidence and a true tone.

Two sopranos, Monika Voysey (a mezzo), who is studying opera at the University of Cape Town, and Friedel Mitas, another UCT student, sang familiar arias by Saint-Saens and Gounod.

And the 30-member KZN Youth Wind Band, conducted by Werner Dannewitz, got the concert off to a really enjoyable start with lively performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture and Hooked on Soweto, an item of contrasts, sentimental and slightly melancholy melody alternating with foot-tapping township jazz.

Lykele Temmingh deserves much praise for searching out these talented young musicians and for conducting with sympathy and understanding on their big night. - Michael Green