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Wednesday, November 16, 2011


(Elina Kerimova)

Programme of premium Schubert from KZNPO players. (Review by Michael Green)

Members of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra have formed an ensemble group for occasional chamber music concerts in Durban, and in this performance, for the Friends of Music, they attracted a large and appreciative audience to the Durban Jewish Centre with a programme of premium Schubert.

They played only two works, both of them masterpieces: the String Quintet, Op. 163, and the Octet for clarinet, horn, bassoon and string quintet, Op. 166.

Schubert’s status has grown steadily over the years and he is now widely regarded, I think, as one of the handful of supreme composers. In a lifetime of a mere 31 years (1797-1828) he produced an astonishing amount of great music, including some outstanding chamber works; and he excelled himself in this Quintet (for two violins, viola and two cellos) and Octet.

The slow movement of the Quintet is exceptionally beautiful, even by Schubertian standards, and the hour-long, six-movement Octet is a constant stream of melody.

This lovely, lyrical, dramatic music was played with high skill and dedication by the KZNPO instrumentalists. The quintet was dominated by the wife-husband team of Elena Kerimova (first violin) and Boris Kerimov (first cello), with Elena in splendid form as she led the players through the complexities of Schubert’s music. The other players were Geza Kayser (violin), Ralitsa Todorova (cello) and David Snaith (viola).

Tonal balance and coordination were excellent; the five string players often sounded like one instrument. And there were many deft touches of interpretation, such as the pizzicato dialogue in the slow movement between the first violin and the second cello.

The Octet is more relaxed, less intense, than the Quintet, and the players revelled in Schubert’s delightful melodies. Here again, Elena Kerimova led the proceedings, but an important role goes to the clarinet, because the work was commissioned by an aristocratic amateur clarinettist, Count Ferdinand Troyer. Ian Holloway played the clarinet part with great assurance and eloquence. And the horn player, Sorin Osorhean, provided some splendid interludes.

The other players were Geza Kayser (second violin), Boris Kerimov (cello), David Snaith (viola), Simon Milliken (double bass), and Vessela Minkova (bassoon).

Of the nine players involved in the concert, two come from Russia, two from Bulgaria, three from England, one from Romania and one from Austria. We are fortunate to have such an infusion of talent from old Europe in our Durban musical scene.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was the gifted and versatile Sarah Pudifin-Jones, who has been a violinist with the KZNPO and is an advocate with law degrees from Cambridge. She is an elegant violinist with an elegant stage presence. Accompanied by Gerhard Geist, she played an arrangement of the intermezzo from Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and a gentle and attractive Romance by Shostakovich. - Michael Green