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Sunday, October 21, 2012


(Konstantin Scherbakov)

Most satisfying performance from Russian pianist Konstantin Scherbakov. (Review by Michael Green)

The sixth concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s spring season had a strongly Hungarian flavour.

The conductor on the podium in the Durban City Hall was Tibor Boganyi, who was born in Hungary about 35 years ago (although in recent years he has been strongly associated with music in Finland), and the two main items on the programme were by Hungarian composers.

One of them was, of course, Franz Liszt, represented on this occasion by his Piano Concerto No 2 in A major. The soloist was the Russian pianist Konstantin Scherbakov who earlier in the week had given an astonishing display of virtuosity in a recital for the Friends of Music.

The Liszt concerto gave him more opportunities to display his technical abilities at the keyboard, with rapid scales and thundering double octaves, but the work also has many lyrical, poetic and gentle passages, and these allowed Konstantin Scherbakov to show another side of his musical personality. He played these sections with grace and care and a lovely cantabile tone. All round, a most satisfying performance, and one much appreciated by the audience.

The concert opened with Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, written in 1933, a brilliant exposition of Hungarian folk music. Tibor Boganyi is a vigorous conductor with expressive body movement, and he seems to have the gift of conveying his enthusiasm to the orchestra. The result here was an outstanding account of an unusually attractive composition.

The second half of the programme was devoted to opera music with two soloists, Estelle Kruger (soprano) and Musa Nkuna (tenor), both of them South African singers of high quality.

This was certainly an unusual way to end a symphony concert, but the music of Mozart, Massenet, Gounod and Verdi and the excellence of the singers made it a totally enjoyable experience. At the end the soloists, conductor and orchestra were given a deserved ovation. - Michael Green