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Friday, March 16, 2012


(Malcolm Nay)

Conductor, soloist and orchestra provide satisfying fare. (Review by Michael Green)

Two symphonies and a piano concerto provided satisfying fare at the latest concert in the Durban City Hall of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

The concert marked the return to Durban of the gifted 41-year-old conductor Daniel Boico, who was born in Israel and now lives in the United States, and an appearance with the orchestra of the South African pianist Malcolm Nay, who lives in Johannesburg.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G minor, one of the lesser-known of the master’s 41 symphonies, opened the programme. It was written when Mozart was 17 years old and, typically, it is a confident, assured, concise and mature work.

The orchestra gave a lively, precise and accurate account of the symphony. Daniel Boico is a first-rate conductor who recently completed a term as assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He has an exuberant style on the podium, and it seems to generate enthusiasm both among the players and among the listeners. The performance was unfailingly entertaining and invigorating.

Malcolm Nay was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor. The composer was on honeymoon when he composed it in 1837 for a festival at Birmingham (Mendelssohn was a great favourite in Victorian England). It is a most attractive work, melodious, fluent, with a ceaselessly busy piano part, and the slow movement is a beautiful, lyrical piece.

Malcolm Nay played from a score, with a page-turner, but he hardly glanced at it, which was understandable; his attention was focused on the keyboard as he delivered rapid and difficult passages with great aplomb. It was a highly successful performance that was rewarded with generous applause.

After the interval came Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, another teenage masterpiece, written when the composer was 19. Like the Mozart, it has a maturity that is quite astonishing, and a slow movement that is absolutely outstanding. All very much to the taste of an appreciative audience.

The final concert of the orchestra’s summer season will be given next Thursday and so will the pre-concert lecture, at the Albany Hotel at 18h15 (refreshments from 17h45). I will be the speaker, discussing music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. - Michael Green