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Saturday, October 17, 2009


(Pic: Stanko Madic)

Brilliant performance of celebrated 20th century violin concerto by Stanko Madic. (Review by Michael Green)

A brilliant performance of a celebrated twentieth century violin concerto was the highlight of this KZN Philharmonic Orchestra concert in the Durban City Hall. The violinist was 25-year-old Stanko Madic from Serbia, the orchestra was conducted by Russian-born Naum Rousine (changing roles from his usual task as a violinist in the orchestra), and the composition was the Violin Concerto by the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian.

Khachaturian was born in 1903 and died in 1978, and he spent much of his time trying to meet the wayward cultural demands of the Soviet regime. In this respect he was mainly successful, being a winner of both the Lenin Prize and the Stalin Prize. As a composer he is picturesque rather than profound; many of his works are strongly influenced by the melodies and rhythms of Armenian folk music. His violin concerto, composed in 1940, is typical but rather more substantial than much of his output. It requires a masterful technique from the soloist and Stanko Madic was entirely capable of delivering the goods. Two days earlier he had created a great impression at a Friends of Music concert in music of a very different kind, by Bach, Schumann and Brahms. This time he conveyed brilliantly the vitality and lyricism of Khachaturian’s concerto, handling the technical problems with aplomb and producing a big, unforced tone that carried into the far reaches of the City Hall.

A memorable performance that brought him a prolonged ovation at the end.

The first half of the programme was occupied by Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, the “Scottish”, dedicated to Queen Victoria and first performed in 1842. This is a fine work which we do not hear very often. Naum Rousine and the orchestra gave a highly effective rendition, with good balance among the various instruments and some splendid playing from the woodwind in particular.

The concert ended with another composer from eastern Europe, the Romanian Georges Enesco (1881-1955), represented here by his melodious and skilfully scored Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major. - Michael Green